28 May 2018   2 comments

Poland is offering $2 billion to host a permanent US military base on its territory.  Poland entered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999 and is covered by Article 5 of the Treaty which is an automatic commitment to collective defense if any member is attacked by another state.  Article 5 reads:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Apparently, Poland wishes a more visible commitment and its proposal states that

” Aggressive Russian actions, as seen in Georgia in 2008 and most recently in Ukraine in 2014 to the present, is destructive for international stability and international legal principles. As shown in Ukraine, Russia is capable of effectively deploying hybrid warfare through its annexation of Crimea, cyberattacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, and fueling separatists in eastern Ukraine. Russia is seeking to strengthen its political and economic relations with key European countries at the expense of U.S. national interests. An increased U.S. permanent presence in Poland will give America the strategic flexibility it needs to confront and deter these threats. It will help secure American interests it shares with its European partners in the region and preserve western values of freedom and democracy.” (pp. 3-4)

The proposal identifies the Suwalki Gap as a particular concern.  It is a slice of territory that separates Russian forces based in Belarus from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad which is not contiguous with the Russian state.  Kaliningrad was known as Konigsberg prior to World War II and the territory was given to Russia from Germany as reparations for the war.   Needless to say, the Russians are quite upset by the Polish proposal which it regards as provocative.  According to Reuters:

“Asked about the move, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it was every country’s sovereign right to take such decisions, but that it would harm the overall atmosphere on the continent.

“’When we see the gradual expansion of NATO military structures towards our borders…, this of course in no way creates security and stability on the continent,’ Peskov told reporters on a conference call on Monday.

“’On the contrary, these expansionist actions of course lead to counter-action from the Russian side in order to balance the parity which is violated every time in this way,’ Peskov said.”

The NATO summit is scheduled for next month and we will see what its response to the Polish proposal might be,

 

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is holding its annual summit next month in China, and Chinese President Xi will host Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the meetingThe SCO was created in 2001 as a counterweight to Western Organizations such as NATO and after a rocky start has begun to become a more credible intergovernmental organization.  It has a number of different affiliations with several states:

• the SCO comprises eight member states, namely the Republic of India, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the People’s Republic of China, the Kyrgyz Republic, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Tajikistan, and the Republic of Uzbekistan;

• the SCO counts four observer states, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Republic of Belarus, the Islamic Republic of Iran and  the Republic of Mongolia;

• the SCO has six dialogue partners, namely the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Armenia, the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Turkey, and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

It is clear that both China and Russia are endeavoring to maintain the Iranian nuclear agreement even without US participation and the SCO meeting will be a real test of whether they can counterbalance the US opposition to Iran.  The US decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement has opened up a tremendous opportunity for Russia and China to reorient Iran toward South and East Asia.  The geopolitical significance of Asia continues to grow at a rapid pace as Europe and the US continues to shrink.

Posted May 28, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “28 May 2018

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  1. Considering the presence in Germany, it seems unnecessary for the U.S. to even think about Poland’s proposal. But with Trump loving right-wing strongmen and having an inability to turn down either cash or building projects, this will get more attention from the executive branch than it should…unless he doesn’t want to disappoint Putin. Very interesting situation.

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    • It will be interesting to see Trump’s response. He gave his first overseas speech in Warsaw and loves the Poles. But he seems unlikely to do anything about which Putin disapproves. I suspect that the rest of NATO doesn’t want to cross Putin as well. So it’s unlikely to pass.

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