This following report captures the idea of a permanent US base in Poland in the geopolitical context, along with its consequences for NATO and Central and Eastern Europe. This paper was supplemented with comments from experts from the United States, Lithuania and Romania to show a broader perspective on the creation of a U.S. permanent military facility on Alliance’s Eastern Flank.
- A U.S. permanent military base in Poland will unquestionably contribute to the improvement of the security in the key European region while dramatically increasing the potential for deterring Russia and preventing Moscow from carrying out its hitherto activities. Not only does this translate into a greater protection of the territories of Poland and other countries of NATO’s eastern flank but also those of the entire continent as such undertaking results in a lower probability of an armed conflict. Militarily speaking, even a large U.S. unit is not capable of influencing the current balance of power whilst Russia will be granted a considerable advantage over the allied forces in all countries that would be most exposed to a potential conflict. Though, while envisaging the ongoing state of affairs, even the very presence of U.S. troops is perceived in terms of an important undertaking. Russia will not risk the death of American citizens, though; basically, a permanent U.S. presence will deter the Russians to the greater extent than a rotational one as the former is more resistant to any instances of political turmoil in Poland and the United States.
- The idea of U.S. permanent military base in Poland is also advocated by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, and Ukraine, all of them being most at risk from Russian military aggression. Nonetheless, such countries as Russia and Belarus and most of the Western European states, including Germany, seem rather sceptical or even negative about the plan to establish any U.S. military headquarters Interestingly, the diving line between both supporters and opponents of the U.S. permanent base fairly coincides with the one observed in the case of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
- Setting up a permanent military base would be of large geopolitical importance not only for Poland and its bilateral relations with the United States but it would also positively influence the situation in Central and Eastern Europe. In the context of current security ties, it is difficult to talk about purely bilateral cooperation whilst such an alliance should not be opposed to any initiatives taken at a multilateral level. The Polish-American agreement would not impede any NATO structures; quite the contrary, such a deal could potentially strengthen the alliance, complementing multilateral commitments of its allies. Here, two member states conclude a contract supposed to serve the same purpose as the aforementioned multilateral obligations (aiming to stop Russia’s military undertakings), even in spite of any objection from another state, as could be the case of Germany.
- U.S. base will thus reinforce NATO’s eastern flank while providing the United States with both political and economic benefits. First of all, the U.S. permanent military base in Poland will unquestionably bolster the potential for deterring Russia. The fact of deploying land forces to the Polish territory will give a strong signal that the United States respects its allied commitments towards Poland and all European states. Located at the strategic point of NATO’s eastern flank, the permanent U.S. military base in Poland corroborates Washington’s commitments to the Alliance and the fact that NATO is perceived by the Americans as the most important means of ensuring security both for Europe as well as for themselves.
- The U.S. Army facilities will undoubtedly boost NATO’s military capabilities against two major issues, including threats from Russia’s military grouping in the Kaliningrad Oblast as well as the need to safeguard the so-called Suwalki Corridor. The presence of an American brigade in the immediate vicinity of the latter will first enable the allied countries to hold the Russians in check with a threat in the Kaliningrad exclave while providing them with an opportunity to protect the only land connection between NATO member countries (including Poland) and the Baltic States.
- Russia’s violent and hostile reaction to the project is not a surprise, though, neither are threats from politicians and experts that includes a possible nuclear attack. The U.S. base in Poland will neither provoke Russia to conduct any greater invasion against the West nor make it probable to expand the country’s military potential as such a decision had been made before. Some claim that the U.S. permanence presence in Poland is the violation of the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act (NRFA), yet it cannot be referred to as an obstacle to set up American facilities on Polish soil. First, Russia has breached the agreement by performing its own actions whilst the Alliance should inform Moscow that such a state of matter does not encompass the arrival of allied forces to Poland under their own flag, which could not take place under the auspices of NATO.
- Even though the U.S. military facilities in Poland may exert an impact on the situation east of the borders of Poland and NATO, they might bring about a serious problem for Belarus. Yet Moscow gains a decisive argument allowing it to urge Lukashenko to let Russian troops enter the territory of Belarus. As illustrated by Russia’s policy, it will become clear that the Kremlin’s pressure to deploy its troops to Belarus may only intensify, regardless of whether any U.S. permanent base is eventually set up in Poland. Over the last few years, Belarus has not made any efforts to keep its political, economic or geostrategic distance from Russia. Lukashenko will therefore eventually agree to establish a Russian base in exchange for some economic concessions and promises of further support from Moscow. Speaking of U.S. permanent military base, it may turn out to be a good solution for Ukraine as the country is currently fighting a war against Russia – just like an increase in the American presence in this region of Europe. The constant U.S. presence in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border may additionally impede invasion plans prepared by Russian generals while Moscow is still considering various force scenarios, as exemplified by the recent tensions in the Sea of Azov.
Photo source: SHAPE NATO
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