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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More