Poland to Russia: Please keep the nuke threats to a minimum

September 26, 2008

sikorsky1.jpgPolish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski would appreciate it if Russia would stop threatening his country with nuclear annihilation — or at least limit its threats to once a month.

“It is not a friendly thing to do, and we have asked them to do it no more than once a month. But as the Atlantic alliance we have nukes too,” Sikorski told an audience at Columbia University this week.

He said there is a great need for NATO to get back to basics so that it can provide a bigger check against a resurgent Russia. NATO should hold more war games and make its “traditional security guarantees credible again. NATO needs to recover its role, not just as an alliance but as a military organization,” Sikorski said.

It was also just pure coincidence, Sikorski assured the audience, that very soon after Russia invaded Georgia, Warsaw and Washington signed an agreement to allow the United States to place parts of its controversial missile shield inside Poland. The missile shield drew  a salvo of furious threats from Moscow.  Poland, Sikorski said, does not want a confrontation with Russia, and asked Moscow to tone it down a bit.

Click here [Play] to listen to Sikorski’s comments.

Photo: Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski (R) shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov at the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw September 11, 2008.


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the fact is that since collapse of the Soviet Union NATO has been transforming itself from military organization into Global Alliance for security (soft-security), science (close to security, but not only), anti-cybercrime, climate change, agriculture, etc. etc. The only two combat operations have been Afghanistan (in which NATO is constantly “motivated” and “suggested” by Pentagon that it needs to send more troops) and – regretfully – Kosovo, which apparently became a trap – Pandora’s box.
Russia never has abandoned its imperial vision of 3rd Rome. 90s have been for Russian empire period of rest and muscle gaining. And now, when NATO only considers Taliban and Al Kaeda as legitimate threat, it certainly has no planning and combat functionality to respond to (surprisingly?) resurgent Russia. A wolf in ship’s skin – that what Russia became from Putin’s era, whilst NATO’s actions are yet limited to “please, don’t misbehave that much, please, please…” sentiments! Bucharest’s summit and reasoning by Angela Merkel that Georgia can’t be NATO MAP country because it has unresolved conflict, gave a Carte Blanche to Russia to convert that conflict from “frozen” to “hot” annexation of Georgia! Terrible mistake! Georgia could have been denied MAP status on a 100-different other grounds (democracy, justice system, free media, non-transparency and imbalance of power, etc, etc), allm of them could be positive benchmarks for country to follow, but it was clear capitulation by NATO prominent member state, accepting that if Russia wants it can block other states from joining NATO! What a fatal mistake and declaration of Russia-dependency!
I have great respect to Mr. Sikorsky and I’m sure Poland and himself personally have a very bright future!!

Posted by George | Report as abusive

Mr. Putin embodies the reaction by Russia against its exploitation through our free marketeers who went to Russia during and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and brought calamity to the people and economy of Russia. Elderly people endured the collapse of their social security system and many died in the brutal Russian winters. Some have emigrated to the U.S. where they live in various enclaves, one of these in Seattle near to the University of Washington. We have an implicit agreement with Gorbachev and the USSR to 1. not violate Russia in Siberia and 2. to not violate the socio-economic structure of Russia following the fall of the wall. We violated part 2. of this pact. It is easy to understand the wish of Russia to have a strong internal economy, comfort and joy for its people, and to assert itself in international matters. No one wishes nuclear war and that part of the relations reflects the decline of the awareness which Nikita Krushchev had in his relation with John Kennedy, such that Mr. Krushchev cried openly upon hearing of the execution of President Kennedy at the hands of two riflemen in Dallas.

Posted by Eric Hands | Report as abusive

“It is not a friendly thing to do, and we have asked them to do it no more than once a month.”

Next thing he should try is to ask the “weather gods” not to send nasty mansoons and no hurricanes, please, – these are not friendly things, ha? Does he really not understands the extent of irrelevance of his “pleas”?

Posted by Egor_NY | Report as abusive

Russia aggressive stance towards Poland is understandable. Poland a former Soviet state should not infuriate Russia by installing anti-missile systems provided by the US and if they continue to do so then they should not think that Russia will just sit by and let it pass.
Russia has risen again and trys to curb US power which is aming at taking in former Soviet states like Georgia and Ukraine into NATO and which pose a threat to Russias security. Also Iran plays a big role where Russia shows that it is important for the west. Russia will not allow Poland to vex it even more.
If Poland can not stand threats then they should think about how they can solve their problems with Russia through diplomacy. But if there is no intention of Poland to do so then they should not complain about being threatened. In the end Poland has the choice if it exacerbates its relation with Russia further or improve it.

Posted by Jonas | Report as abusive

The United States use Poland as a tool to undermine and weaken EU . They want NATO to serve the US interests more
actively. But that is not what Europe needs. The US also try to split EU to prevent it becoming big player.
The latest poll in Ireland with NO to European constitution was financed by the US (See Financial Deutschland , 26 Sept). Europe needs to take care of its own interests not that of the US.

Posted by monotavr | Report as abusive

sorry , the source cited – Financial Times Deutschland

Posted by monotavr | Report as abusive

If Poland continues to operate under the delusion that sidling up to the U.S. is going to protect Poland’s soverignty, then it is in for an unpleasant shock. Russia did not sacrifice 20 million in the Eastern Front just to allow frat-boy neo-conservatives to effectively encircle Russia via supine and impoverished states begging for US investment

You have been warned!

Posted by Brendan | Report as abusive

what us? u mean rumble of empire? collapse is inevitable from my point of view (here in ny}, so why everyone talks about Poland? and Russia just have recovered from 20 years of crisis… tell me how us can help?

Posted by russ | Report as abusive

“Washington’s pursuit of nuclear primacy helps explain its missile-defense strategy, for example. Critics of missile defense argue that a national missile shield, such as the prototype the United States has deployed in Alaska and California, would be easily overwhelmed by a cloud of warheads and decoys launched by Russia or China. They are right: even a multilayered system with land-, air-, sea-, and space-based elements, is highly unlikely to protect the United States from a major nuclear attack. But they are wrong to conclude that such a missile-defense system is therefore worthless — as are the supporters of missile defense who argue that, for similar reasons, such a system could be of concern only to rogue states and terrorists and not to other major nuclear powers.

What both of these camps overlook is that the sort of missile defenses that the United States might plausibly deploy would be valuable primarily in an offensive context, not a defensive one — as an adjunct to a U.S. first-strike capability, not as a standalone shield.”


Posted by Yuri | Report as abusive

Hooray for Poland!!! Can you poke your thumb in the eye of the big Russian bear with anything better than a little a humor??? “… threaten us only once a month, please.” I love it!!! This is the Russia of old, “we’re not to smart, we’re not to good at most things, but we can sure drop a bomb on ya!!!” Russia is the classic argument AGAINST evolution. After 1,000 years you’d think they’d become a little more civilized. Wouldn’t you?


Posted by Henry Meister | Report as abusive

The Russian don’t accept the Poland’s freedom, that’s true. I don’t think, that whoever from western states would intend to annihilate Russia. The danger of the annihilation of Russia comes not from the U.S.A., but from the Russia. Look, firstly the K.G.B. has stroken the comunism in Russia economically, now the K.G.B. (Putin, Miedviediev)intends to stroke the capitalism. What kind of the future it prepares? I think, that China… What do you think?

Posted by mark | Report as abusive

Actually, Russia never threatened Poland with nuclear strike. They just said that “in event of any major conflict, the US missile base in Poland will be a first target for a strike, possibly a nuclear one…” So, if the war beggins, for the people of Poland will not matter much which missiles start hiting their cites – Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Pakistanian, Korean or someone elses. Its nice that Polish leaders reatain a sense of humor in the situation they put Poland. As for leaders of US – good job! Its better to put some other country on the line of fire instead of US territory.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

I think many don’t realize that Russia in the 70s (and probably now too) designated Poland to become a nuclear wasteland to serve as a buffer zone between the West and themselves. Secondly everyone should, by now, understand that Russia does not care for anyone of its neighbours, especially Poland and especially with the existing regime of ex-KGB running the Russian government.

So whether Russia makes threats or not, their intentions are not good for Poland either way. That’s why it does not matter if Russia openly or covertly threatens Poland (in whatever way) and short of Poland openly insulting Russia, Poland should have its own agenda and continue increasing its own security without regard what Russia has to say about it.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

One of the ways you quiet down a dog is to say “Shhh!” to it. Hopefully Russia responds the same way.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

“Poland a former Soviet state should not infuriate Russia by installing anti-missile systems provided by the US and if they continue to do so then they should not think that Russia will just sit by and let it pass.”

You may want to check your maps and history again Jonas, Poland was never part of the Soviet Union. They were part of the Warsaw Pact, but it was never their choice in the matter.

Poland is a free and independent country, they can choose who they want to side with. Its because of their tragic history with the USSR, is precisely why they want protection from Russia, and to be a free and democratic country allied with the West.

Its rather silly and nonsensical, for those here who insist that since Poland was dominated by the USSR for a time in its history, that Poland has to be considerate to Russia and do what Russia wants. Russia never exactly cared about Poland, so why does Poland have to care what the Russians think?

Posted by Ron Chambless | Report as abusive

I couldn’t agree more Ron.
Its like someone saying that the USA should not do anything to upset England, since once upon a time the King of England ruled over they’re land.
Grow a brain Jonas you half wit

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

The fact is that Poland and russia have been in an on and off war for 500 years or longer. They have fought over infuluence in slavic europe for hundreds of years (with Poland being more powerfull for many of them). In my opinion russia should stop thinking they will retain any influence at all in any of their former occupied lands. Why cant russia learn not to go where it is not wanted? It wont matter soon, because it is just a matter of time that they will be irrelevant in any other country than russia itself, as it should be.
P.S. If the world has any justice Georgia and Ukraine will be part of NATO soon, so all russia’s empirical aspirations can burn in hell where they belong.

Posted by N.L.S | Report as abusive