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NATO Defense
Poland Arms, Russia Fumes

Poland announced yesterday that it would be buying Patriot missiles from U.S. manufacturer Raytheon in order to upgrade its missile defense shield, adding six batteries by 2022. And predictably enough—like clockwork, really—Russia bared its teeth at the announcement. Both Russia’s top general and its defense minister described the move as NATO aggression towards Russia and made threats towards Poland in response to the missile defense announcement. The Russian invective was also aimed at Romania, where NATO troops are currently holding military exercises and where a missile defense shield installation (of a different variety than the Patriot called Aegis Ashore) is in the works.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Nonnuclear powers where missile-defense installations are being installed have become the objects of priority response,” Gen. Valery Gerasimov said, referring to Poland and Romania. […]

Western leaders have said NATO’s long-running project to build a missile defense shield in Europe aimed to deter an attack from Iran rather than Russia, a position the alliance reiterated Thursday.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said such assertions were a lie. “Today it is clear that the missile threat from Tehran that the U.S. and other countries of the alliance invented was a bluff,” he said.

These remarks echo similar statements from late March, when a Russian official threatened to target Denmark’s own missile defense installations with nukes.

The purchase of the Patriots is part of Poland’s pledge to spend more than $1 billion annually for its military modernization budget, which, as Andrew Michta noted in our pages yesterday, makes its projected expenditures “roughly equal that of all the remaining 11 ‘new allies’ who joined NATO from 1999 onward.” This makes Warsaw the top defense spender in the Baltic-Central European theater, a development which could, and hopefully will, push fellow European NATO member countries towards fulfilling their commitment to spend two percent of GDP on defense.

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  • fastrackn1

    ‘Defense’ is “aggression”…that is interesting….
    If Russia has no plans to lob missiles at Poland then what is their problem?
    Poland should be the one complaining…because they have to spend a billion dollars….

    • adk

      ‘Defense’ is “aggression”…

      This idea harks back to the MAD doctrine of the US-USSR nuclear standoff. If you build a good missile shield, then you are protected from the second/retaliatory strike from your adversary, and that presumably could tempt you to strike first, ie, to become an aggressor.

      The idea that US/NATO is a military(let alone nuclear) threat to Russia is of course completely preposterous, but that’s what Putin & Co have been telling, with great success, to their people for quite some time.

      • fastrackn1

        I see your point about how defense can be aggression.

        Like Putin, our own government has done plenty of fear mongering about the threat of the USSR over the years…chess can be complicated….
        I never believed the Soviet Union was actually any type of a real threat (MAD-wise) – not because they didn’t have the capability to inflict real damage here, but because I never thought they would actually use it.
        It was just too far-fetched to believe they think they could take over the US and then occupy it – they could barely occupy Afghanistan, or to believe that they thought that we would want to occupy them.

      • GS

        “threat”? – Who on earth would want a piece of them? Who would want the superfund-level contaminated territory and the equally contaminated [with a corrosive way of life habits] population? Hopefully, the chinese would little by little absorb them more or less peacefully.

        • adk

          I don’t know whether Putin truly believes that the West is after him and his country (which in his mind is probably one and the same) or is it a tried-and-true way to distract the populace from the mounting economic problems AND fortify his own legitimacy(“He is the gatherer of our lands lost by traitors and the guardian of our independence!”). Perhaps both, but whatever it is, it’s working for him domestically.

          • GS

            @adk: and ef him and them. If russia can arm itself, so can everyone else [and they better do it, given the sordid history of their dealings with russia].

  • aliswell

    Russia has given Poland and nearby countries good reason to arm themselves. At least Poland is heeding the writing on the wall.

    • Corlyss

      They and others saw the handwriting on the wall in 1992. What got between them and acting on their realizations was the dim bulb in the WH who broke the agreements inked by the Bush administration to supply weapons systems to Poland in furtherance of his “superior” understanding that the U.S. was the principal cause of hostility between the U.S. and Russia. We have apologists like Cohen telling us that we shouldn’t go poking the Russians by arming the near abroad because it just makes the Russians do what realpolitik tells the rest of us the Russians are going to do any way.

  • Pete

    ” ….a development which could, and hopefully will, push fellow European NATO member countries towards fulfilling their commitment to spend two percent of GDP on defense.”

    You’re joking, right?

    • f1b0nacc1

      Sadly, he isn’t….he really believes this silliness

  • Fat_Man

    If Poland is to survive, it must recast its defense on the model of the Swiss/Israeli system of an army of the whole people. Only if invading Poland is like stepping on a nest of hornets, do they stand a chance.

  • Gene

    Over the past couple of years there have been commenters on this site and others who have taken the position that Russia is justified in feeling threatened because of the actions of western nations in expanding NATO, allegedly meddling in Ukrainian politics, etc. How much of that commentary is part of a coordinated campaign by Russia to get their talking points out, and how much the honestly held opinions of regular readers of this site I don’t want to speculate on.

    But if we are to grant the Russians some justification for their actions and rhetoric based on their historical experiences, how on earth can Russia justify its caterwauling about Poland? POLAND! One of the most invaded, crushed, annexed and run-over countries in world history.

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