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Poland Takes Centre Stage In ‘New Cold War’ Strategy

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The decision of the Trump administration announced on 15 August that it is deploying another 1,000 troops to Poland pursuant to a new defence cooperation agreement signed on the anniversary of the victory of Poland in the Polish-Soviet war of 1920 reflects the US intention to locate a string of strategic offensive and defensive military infrastructure along Russia’s western border, from Norway in the far north to the Black Sea countries in the south.

Poland Takes Centre Stage In ‘New Cold War’ Strategy

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The establishment and steady expansion of major military bases and logistics and operations hubs located along Russia’s western border is accompanies by an increase in strategic long-range strike exercises and drills involving bombers and submarines operating alone or jointly with other NATO countries or non-NATO partners such as Ukraine.

In an analysis of the broader geopolitical context of the move, Covert Action Magazine notes that the 1,000 military personnel to be deployed to Poland will be added to the 4,500 that were previously deployed by President Barack Obama following the 2014 Western-backed coup d’état in Ukraine and the Russian reunification with Crimea.

Poland Takes Centre Stage In ‘New Cold War’ Strategy

President Duda poses with Polish and US soldiers participating in military exercises called ‘DEFENDER-Europe 20’

As part of the defence cooperation agreement, Poland has agreed to host forward elements of the U.S. Army’s V Corps headquarters, which the Polish foreign minister called “the most important U.S. command centre on NATO’s eastern flank.”

The most recent events are a part of the strategic shift of successive US administrations moving the core military installations and activities of NATO from Paris and Bonn – what Donald Rumsfeld referred to as ‘old Europe’ – to the East, in accordance with a broader plan to forge alliances with and gain military control over as many of the countries of the former Soviet Union as possible, in Central and Eastern Europe as well as in Central Asia.

Poland Takes Centre Stage In ‘New Cold War’ Strategy

‘Defender Europe 20’ US-led NATO military exercises

Both the Obama and Trump administrations have poured weapons into Eastern Europe, accompanied by the establishment of forward-deployed US troops and military installations and integrated with ongoing programs of military training and military exercises.

The shift of US military hardware and activities eastwards  is part of an attempt to resurrect the Intermarium—a geopolitical concept originating in the post-World War I era that envisages an alliance of countries reaching from the Baltic Sea over the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea that would serve as an alternative power bloc between Germany and Russia.

Poland Takes Centre Stage In ‘New Cold War’ Strategy

NATO membership and expansion

The term Intermarium was used by former United States Army Europe (USAREUR) commander General Ben Hodges to describe the US strategy for Central and Eastern Europe, before being revived on a much broader scale by the ruling Polish Party of Law and Justice as well as by Ukrainian far-right movements in the wake of the 2014 coup in Ukraine.

In 2019, the US Army began rotational deployment of an armoured brigade combat team to Poland while the Pentagon prepositioned equipment for an MQ-9 Reaper drone squadron there.

In March 2018, Poland signed a $4.75 billion deal to purchase US Patriot missile defence systems from Raytheon, the largest arms procurement deal in Polish history.

At the signing ceremony, Polish President Andrzej Duda stated that the historic moment was “Poland’s introduction into a whole new world of state-of-the art technology, modern weaponry and defensive means.”

Russia responded to the Patriot deal by upgrading its own nuclear arsenal and shifting strategic assets westwards, including the deployment of Iskander short-range nuclear capable missiles in Kaliningrad, a 5,800-square-mile Russian exclave wedged between Poland and Lithuania.

One of the features of the first Cold War was the US alliance with conservative and extreme right-wing factions, including those with Nazi collaborationist ties. The new Cold War, unfortunately, is shaping up to be little different, as the US is again forming alliances with far right governments and political factions in the region against Russia.

Polish President Andrzej Duda is a leader of the right-wing Law and Justice Party, which has been criticized for tightening government control over the media and promoting the repression of political opponents and critics.

Duda has also been accused of promoting a right-wing revisionism surrounding World War II. In 2018, Duda signed a law playing down the Polish role in the Nazi Holocaust,  banning people from accusing Poland of Holocaust atrocities committed by the Nazis and from referring to concentration camps as ‘Polish death camps’.

The Duda administration has made a point of glorifying Polish resistance to the Nazis, but has underplayed Polish crimes like at Jedwabne in July 1941, where Poles rounded up and killed their Jewish neighbours.

The Jedwabne pogrom was an atrocity committed on July 10, 1941, during the German occupation of Poland in World War II. Described as a massacre or a pogrom by postwar historians, it resulted in the death of at least 340 Polish Jews of all ages, locked in a barn which was later set on fire. A group of 23 Polish males was involved, after being summoned in Jedwabne by a German paramilitary group known as the Ordnungspolizei.

Duda has also promoted stringent anti-communism campaign whose supporters have demolished numerous Soviet-era monuments dedicated to the heroic Red Army, while Nazi collaborators are presented as ‘patriots’ and ‘heroes’. Duda in fact signed a law banning all references to communism.

Given this position, it is no surprise that Poland has been active in the movement to oust Alexander Lukashenko  following contested elections in Belarus. Polish and Western media have been strongly promoting and supporting pro-Western opposition figures, hoping to capitalize on the political and social turmoil in the country to install a pro-West, anti-Russia transition regime. Nexta Live, an online television station presenting minute-by-minute updates on the protests in Belarus, operates out of Poland.

A Polish Special Forces unit that specializes in psychological operations has been involved in coordinating what some analysts are referring to as the ‘Belomaidan protests’ in Bydgoszez, whose supporters endorsed the Intermarium, or alliance of Eastern European countries against Russia.

When the BBC interviewed a photo-journalist who had been arrested by Lukashenko’s police, he happened to be a Pole with a neo-Nazi background.

The bottom line is that the US military alliance with Poland is helping to prop up an increasingly authoritarian right-wing regime which is also seeking to encourage and intensify hostile attitudes and actions against Russia. LINK

To the far north, Norway has also been increasingly incorporated into the string of geostrategic military infrastructure and operations stretching along Russia’s western frontier since around 2016, serving as an operational base for much more frequent  visits by US strategic nuclear submarines, substantially increasing the number of US troops and hardware stationed there, and participating much more actively in US-led NATO war games.

To the south, Ukraine has also substantially increased its active participation in NATO aerial and naval war games around the Black Sea as well as opening its airspace to US/ NATO long-range strategic bombers in joint military drills together with most of the other Black Sea nations, some of which also host US missile defence installations. The US has operated an Aegis Ashore missile interception system in Romania since 2016. LINK

To the extent that US-led NATO forces continue their concentration on Russia’s borders, the NATO countries can expect Russia to deploy more of its forces in positions where they can launch rapid attacks against European countries perceived as threats, and the US can expect more large-scale Russian military exercises and manoeuvres involving strategic strike forces close to Alaska such as those that were held last month. Given the corresponding US military encirclement of China, China may be encouraged to participate in such military activities in the future.

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