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    Poland needs U.S. base to cede from Russian influence - PM

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    The deployment of a U.S. anti-missile base in Poland will guarantee that Warsaw will no longer be under Russia's sphere of influence, the Polish prime minister said Tuesday.

    WARSAW, February 20 (RIA Novosti) - The deployment of a U.S. anti-missile base in Poland will guarantee that Warsaw will no longer be under Russia's sphere of influence, the Polish prime minister said Tuesday.

    The governments of Poland and the Czech Republic reaffirmed Monday their readiness to allow the United States to base elements of its missile shield on their territories.

    "We are talking about the status of Poland and about Russia's hopes that Poland will once again come under its [Moscow's] sphere of influence," Jaroslaw Kaczynski said.

    The premier said such a situation could involve exercising influence on Poland, exerting direct pressure on it, or creating a situation in which dealing with Moscow becomes Poland's only recourse.

    "But following the deployment of a missile defense base here, the chances of such undue influence arising will be greatly reduced for at least several decades," Kaczynsky said.

    Washington plans to install a radar system in the Czech Republic and to deploy anti-ballistic missiles in Poland to counter an alleged threat from Iran and North Korea.

    Moscow strongly opposes the deployment of a missile shield in its former backyard in Central Europe, describing the plans as a threat to Russian national security.

    Polish political observers have already said that Kaczynsky's statement was his first harsh critique of Russia.

    Commenting on a statement by the Commander-in-Chief of Russia's strategic missile forces, (SMF) Nikolai Solovtsov, that the SMF would be able to track down elements of the U.S. missile defense system if they were eventually deployed in Central Europe, Kaczynsky said "it was obviously an attempt at intimidation."

    On Monday, Solovtsov said: "If the governments of Poland and the Czech Republic make such a decision, the Strategic Missile Forces will be able to target these systems."

    Earlier Tuesday, however, Jan Carnogursky, a former Slovakian prime minister, said the deployment of elements of the U.S. missile defense system in Central Europe could lead to the deterioration of relations between Russia and NATO, and could result in a new "Cold War."

    "The deployment of [missile] bases in the Czech Republic and Poland means that NATO military installations will move closer to Russia's borders, in violation of a verbal promise made by the United States to [ex-Soviet president] Gorbachev at talks ending the Cold War," Carnogursky said, adding that the move could "lead to a new Cold War."

    Army General Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the Russian General Staff, issued a strong warning to the U.S. February 15 regarding its missile shield plans by announcing a possible unilateral Russian pullout from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

    The INF treaty eliminated nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers (300 to 3,400 miles). By the treaty's deadline of June 1, 1991, a total of 2,692 such weapons had been destroyed, 846 by the U.S. and 1,846 by the Soviet Union.

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