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"Poland now a target of our missiles," Russian general

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    Not that they weren t anyway. MISSILE SHIELD FALLOUT Poland Risks Serious Confrontation with Russia By Jan Puhl The Cold War is returning to Poland. Warsaw
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 21, 2008
      Not that they weren't anyway.

      Poland Risks Serious Confrontation with Russia
      By Jan Puhl

      The Cold War is returning to Poland. Warsaw wants to further tighten
      ties with Washington and it has used the US missile defense system to
      do so -- against massive opposition from Moscow. In return, the Poles
      will now be given Patriot missiles to protect themselves.

      US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Polish Foreign Minister
      Radoslaw Sikorski: The treaty is signed, but the troubles may only be

      Lech Kaczynski, Poland's president, is mighty proud these days -- of
      himself and of his country. As United States Secretary of State
      Condoleezza Rice took her place at the breakfast table in his Warsaw
      palace, the president served dishes in white and red, his country's
      national colors. Mozzarella with tomatoes.

      Find out how you can reprint this SPIEGEL ONLINE article in your
      publication. Rice had traveled to Warsaw to sign a treaty for the
      stationing of interceptor missiles in Poland, a deal that had been in
      the works for years. In the future, they could be used to intercept
      warheads launched against the US by rogue states in the Middle East.
      Of course, Moscow has argued that the missile shield could also be
      used against Russia. "Poland is now a target of our missiles," one
      Russian general hissed not long ago after the Polish and Americans
      reached an agreement. But the country, a young member of the European
      Union, is determined to remain undeterred. "No one can dictate to
      Poland what it should do," Kaczynski told his people on Tuesday
      evening. "That's in the past."

      For Poland, nestled as it is between the Oder and Bug rivers, the
      missile shield has far more than just military significance. Even 19
      years after the disappearance of the Iron Curtain, 11 years after it
      became a member of NATO and four years after its EU accession, Warsaw
      still feels the need to demonstrate its independence against the old
      hegemony of Moscow. Russia's invasion of Georgia in recent days,
      following Georgia's strike on its breakaway province of South
      Ossetia, has only served to strengthen Polish fears. Prior to the
      war, a steady majority of up to 80 percent of Poles opposed the
      missile shield according to public opinion polls. In the past week,
      however, the polls have swung the other way, with 50 to 65 percent
      now expressing their support for the shield. Polls show that 65
      percent of Poles are afraid of Russia, whereas barely 20 percent are
      worried about Iran and North Korea.

      The US Missile Defense System in Eastern Europe Poland's trend of
      closing the ranks militarily with Washington didn't just start when
      nationalist-conservative politician Kaczynski came to power. Back in
      2003, US defense firm Lockheed-Martin won out over the Eurofighter
      consortium for a Warsaw fighter jet order. And during the Iraq war,
      Poland not only joined the ranks of the US-led "Coalition of the
      Willing," but was also handed its own occupation zone. Poland -- a
      country too large to be a vassal state and too small to be taken
      seriously by the Americans as a power factor -- wanted to increase
      its strategic clout in Washington. In doing so, concerns about
      possible threats eminating from Putin's unpredictable empire were
      never far from the minds of Warsaw politicians.

      After all, had its EU partners in the West not criminally
      underestimated this danger and left the countries of Eastern Europe
      to fend for themselves against the Russian bear time and time again
      in the past? That's a question that's not only being asked in Warsaw,
      but also in Prague, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn. Brussels did nothing
      when Russia beat up on the Baltic states with arbitrary trade
      restrictions, when it launched a full-scale cyber war against Estonia
      and when it used specious arguments to ban Polish food imports. And
      that's not even mentioning the weak support given to the young,
      wobbly Ukrainian democracy as Russia attempted to strongarm it. In
      addition to all that, comes history: the three times Poland's borders
      were redrawn, the Hitler-Stalin Pact and the 40 years of oppression
      under the Warsaw Pact system.

      Poland has often strained EU internal relations with its clear
      partisanship towards its trans-Atlantic partner. But was it worth the
      trouble? Did courting America ultimately pay dividends?

      "We have experienced disappointment after disappointment," says
      political scientist Aleksander Smolar of the Warsaw-based Batory
      Foundation think tank. He says Washington seldom listened when Warsaw
      tried to court it. "Poland's weight as an American partner never grew
      to the level people had hoped. That also partially has to do with the
      fact that Sarkozy and Merkel -- pronounced America-friendly
      politicians -- came to power in France and Germany." He notes that
      Poland still hasn't succeeded in brokering a deal for a visa-waver
      for its citizens travelling to the United States.

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      Back when Warsaw just took over its occupation zone during the Iraq
      war, the word in the Polish capital was that, "In terms of foreign
      policy, we are rising in rank to a new league."

      But these days one seldom hears such triumphalist rhetoric. Indeed,
      the hour spent celebrating the signing of the missile treaty was
      preceded by the toughest of negotiations -- and Washington can no
      longer expect a free lunch from Warsaw. In exchange for their support
      for the missile defense system, the country's new prime minister,
      Donald Tusk, and his Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski negotiated the
      stationing of Patriot interceptor missiles in Poland. The missiles
      are being placed there to protect Poland from an attack, but the
      missile shield itself is primarily aimed at covering the United

      Warsaw's most important challenge now will be to repair a
      relationship with Russia that has been left in tatters. "The Cold War
      is returning," Jadwiga Staniszkis, a well-known Polish political
      scientist warns. Meanwhile, her counterpart Smolar fears that Moscow
      could use its entire arsenal of tools to get back at a disobedient
      Poland: "Economic sanctions, cyber attacks and even by applying
      pressure on countries friendly to Poland like Ukraine."

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