15,000 US Troops to be Deployed in Poland?

15,000 US Troops To Be Deployed In Poland?
The Polish government is interested in establishing a large, permanent US military presence in their country and they are willing to pay large sums of money to help cover the costs, to safeguard Poland from the "threat from the East." The deal has been canceled but serious questions have been raised regarding Polish-Russian relations.

Magdalena Szmidt, a Polish lawyer and women's right activist, joins the program.  

Moscow considers the establishment of a US army base in Poland to be a breach of the 1997 NATO Founding Act, whereby, Moscow says, NATO agreed not to deploy permanent forces in Eastern Europe. 

Magdalena starts the program by saying that she does not think that the troop deployment is going to happen: "Yesterday we found out that the US's ambassador to the UN said that this is not going to happen. The threat that it might still happen is there, but the immediate, direct threat is not there."  

In a sign of possible discord within the Polish government, the defense ministry confirmed that the proposal was sent to Washington without the knowledge of the president, Andrzej Duda. "I would not rely on anything the Polish Ministry of Defense says; it is really difficult to follow what the Polish government is doing at the moment. But it is all governed by the Atlantic Treaty, so they cannot just decide like that, decisions have to be approved by all members of the North Atlantic Treaty. If it is outside of NATO then it is a bilateral matter, and the US has expressed that it will not go ahead with this. Politics however change so much at the moment so I don't dare to say what will happen," said Magdalena.

There have been reports in the Western media that the US government is trying to support far right governments in Eastern Europe. "This is difficult to work out; there have been reports in the media that the Polish government has been working with the Russian government. Now they are saying that the Polish government has been reaching out to the American government. There is a huge discrepancy within the reports that the Polish media publish about this matter," Magdalena stated.

John Harrison asked the Polish people what they think about their government's attempt to request a significant increase in the US military presence in Poland. Magdalena answered, "I am not aware of any signaling that people are afraid of Russia invading. Of course you cannot predict everything but I don't think that Polish people are immensely concerned about this."

Many people think that most Poles are anti-Russia. According to Magdalena, this is untrue. "I'm part Russian, my grandfather was Russian, I come from the North East of Poland, I come from an area where all cultures and religions were mixed up together. I don't feel that amongst my friends, family and people that I know that there is fear. I may be biased; I come from the east of Poland, the people that I know are quite liberal." John Harrison asked whether there is a cultural split between the east and west of Poland as there is in Ukraine. Magdalena replied, "Most Russian Orthodox followers live where I come from, and it [Russian Orthodoxy] is officially tolerated, so that's OK. The rest of Poland is Catholic, but I don't see that contrast. I don't see it." Regarding the differences in culture between Poland and Belorussians, Magdalena said, "This is another matter; there were some bad things that happened in the Second World War between Poland and Ukraine, so that is quite a sensitive area, but relations are not as sensitive between Poles and Belorussians."

So if we can believe the US ambassador to the UN, it seems that the deployment of some 15,000 US troops to Poland will not happen. However, judging by the way the US government is making U-turns in its foreign policy, such a deployment remains a possibility.

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