Friday, 29 August 2008

Poland signs anti-missile shield agreement

As if the new Cold War over South Ossetia were not enough, Poland and the United States signed their agreement on the stationing of the new anti-missile shield missiles in Poland – and you read about it here first. Issue No. 249 of the Digest in December 2007 stated, “Radek Sikorski’s elevation to head of the Polish Foreign Office [in the new government of Donald Tusk] means that Warsaw’s foreign policy will be every bit as pro-American as it was under the previous Kaczynski government, in which Sikorski was Minister of Defence.” On 20 August, Sikorski hosted Condoleezza Rice in Warsaw for the signing ceremony.

One German paper comments, “The crisis in the Caucasus strengthened those who supported the shield.” This is an admission that the shield is directed against Russia after all, whereas the official American position is that it is designed to prevent missile attacks from Iran. Certainly, Russia has interpreted the decision as an unfriendly act.

On 20 August, the presidents of Russia and Belarus met to discuss the creation of a common air defence system as a response. [Itar-Tass, 20 August 2008] President Medvedev of Russia and President Lukashenko of Belarus agreed that a treaty on the matter should be signed by the autumn.

Other Russian reactions have been more colourful if less substantial. The Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, said, “The Europeans have received a ‘dead cat’ from the Americans.” (A more accurate English translation of what he said might be “The Europeans have bought a pig in a poke” or “They have been sold a pup”.) Rogozin said that signing the agreement with the United States, Poland had confirmed that the missile shield is directed against Russia. “The Poles should be thanked for helping reveal the strategic goal of the U.S. missile defence plan," he said. [RIA Novosti 20 August 2008]

The Polish Prime Minister confirmed that the decision was a momentous one. Donald Tusk said, “We have crossed the Rubicon.” Patriot missiles will now also be stationed in Poland, one of Warsaw’s main demands; there is also an agreement that America will defend Poland from any external attack. [Die Welt, 14 August 2008]

-- From The European Journal. Sign up for FREE to John Laughland's 'Intelligence Digest' to find out what’s really happening in Europe --

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