News / Europe

Poland ‘Frontline’ in US Effort on Ukraine

With an F-16 fighter in the background, U.S. President Barack Obama and Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski (R) shake hands upon Obama's arrival at Chopin Airport in Warsaw, June 3, 2014.
With an F-16 fighter in the background, U.S. President Barack Obama and Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski (R) shake hands upon Obama's arrival at Chopin Airport in Warsaw, June 3, 2014.
When U.S. President Barack Obama chose Poland to begin a four-day European trip, he sent a message about the country's importance in the attempt to stand down Russia over Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's threatening moves against Kyiv have cast a shadow over Obama’s visit, rekindling old fears among the new democracies of the former East Bloc.
 
None of those nations, experts say, comes close to Poland in terms of size, symbolism and geo-political importance.
 
“It’s a rising power in Europe,” said Nile Gardiner, who directs the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.

“By its sheer size alone, as the largest post-communist nation in the European Union, Poland carries significant weight. [It's] really the frontline of the NATO alliance, and, together with the Baltic states, a bulwark against Russia,” he said.
 
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, and Moscow’s ongoing efforts to destabilize eastern Ukraine, Poland’s relevance has only increased.
 
“For Ukrainian reformers, Poland is the model they wish to emulate,” said Michael Mandelbaum, a scholar at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.
 
“It’s a neighbor – with cultural affinities and a shared history for at least half of Ukraine’s population – that’s done far better,” he said.
 
Poland’s influence
 
The Polish experience of the last quarter century in emerging from communist rule and integrating into the West is blazing a path for its eastern neighbors.
 
“If Ukraine could go the way of Poland politically and economically – in terms of rule of law and anti-corruption – [Kyiv] would be lucky indeed,” said Richard Fontaine, president of the Center for a New American Security.
 
“[It] remains an important country,” he said. “The question about eastern Europe is ‘are these countries net security providers or consumers?’ Poland has contributed significant forces in conflicts where Americans are involved.”
 
Moreover, the views of Polish experts on regional issues involving Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are “taken very seriously in Washington and often provoke a vigorous exchange with policy makers here, he said.

Polish and other regional leaders have argued repeatedly that Russia’s annexation of Crimea has upended international law and violated a NATO-Russia post-Cold War agreement in which the western alliance said it would not deploy large numbers of troops in its eastern areas.

President Obama on Tuesday revealed a $1 billion plan to bolster security in central and eastern Europe in the face of Russian threats through additional U.S. troop deployments, training and equipment. He chose to stand in a military hanger in Warsaw to make that announcement.
 
"I am starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland's security, as well as the security of our allies in central and eastern Europe, is a cornerstone of our own security.” he said. “It is sacrosanct.''
 
In April, the United States sent the first of a few hundred troops to Poland as a symbol of that commitment, but it was far short of the 10,000 Poland wants permanently based.

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Popsiq from: Buganda
June 04, 2014 9:18 PM
Poland should be a frontline on the Ukraine. This might be their last best chance to get back the territory taken from them by Russia in 1939.

But it IS part of the Ukraine now - they got it in 1939 and having 'removed' the Poles long ago, they don't feel like giving it back. It isn't at all like the Tatars - it was a 'gift' accepted in good faith, a 'sacred national trust' and not to be dishonored - even if it was the 'fiends of hell' who gave it.

by: meanbill from: USA
June 03, 2014 6:29 PM
WHAT? --- If Poland had 50 divisions of front line troops, (and they're that close to Russia), they wouldn't have a chance in a nuclear war, and their country would be gone in a matter of minutes -- (AND?) -- if the US is training Polish troops, (remember the US with the greatest military force in the history of the world, hasn't won any of the conflicts or wars they fought in since WW2) .... IF Poland is neutral, Russia would point their nuclear missiles at other NATO countries, wouldn't they?

IF Poland would stay neutral, they'd have nothing to fear from the Russians? -- A neutral Poland would be a security blanket on the Russian western front, that they wouldn't have to defend themselves from? -- "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu?
In Response

by: Slawek from: California
June 04, 2014 12:11 PM
It is naive to think that neutrality would ever stop Putin from invading neighboring countries. It may be also naive for Piland to hope that US or NATO would come to Poland's help if attacked by Russia. They prefer policy of appeasement - just like with Hitler.

by: mohsen samii from: portugal
June 03, 2014 5:59 PM
No problem for Poland after all they towed the line in the First and Second world Wars and now are again seem to be prepared to lose out yet again the third time around.

by: Paul
June 03, 2014 5:37 PM
Halfway through a 229 billion-euro ($317 billion) EU aid package, more than the entire Marshall Plan for postwar Europe in today’s dollars, the money kept the Polish economy growing when the rest of the continent went into recession. The new business parks, highways, soccer stadiums and airport terminals also mask how for many Poles the passage to prosperity is still to come, with 17 percent of families of four living on less than $400 a month.

by: Voice-of-Reason from: PA
June 03, 2014 5:24 PM
And what will happen to Poland once the US which lives on borrowed money and borrowed time implodes economically and then politically? It is unwise in the extreme to tie your fate to a failed US state, while in Europe which is just as bankrupt as the US, all the "extreme" right parties which are all Russia friendly are rapidly rising in popularity.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs