United States and Poland sign missile-defence deal angering Russia

Friday, August 15, 2008

In what seems to be the strongest reaction to the Russian invasion of Georgia, Poland agreed to place ten American interceptor missiles in a base in its territory. The deal, reached on Thursday, concluded almost two years of negotiations, so far delayed by Poland, reluctant to irritate its eastern neighbour. However, in view of the Russian offensive in Georgia, these concerns have been superseded.

PAC-3 missile launch

The missiles, staffed with American personnel, are designed for defence against medium- and long-range ballistic missiles. In exchange for providing the base, Poland will get 96 latest-generation PAC-3 Patriot missiles for defence against aircraft and short-range missile attacks. Part of the deal obliges the United States to defend Poland in case of an attack, with greater speed than normally required under NATO.

"Poland wants to be in alliances where assistance comes in the very first hours of - knock on wood - any possible conflict" the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said. "It is no good when assistance comes to dead people."

Russia reacted to the agreement with anger. According to the Associated Press, the Russian deputy chief of general staff stated that the deal exacerbated the Russia–United States relations and "cannot go unpunished."

According to Russian news agency Interfax, the agreement to accept a U.S. missile interceptor base exposes Poland to a Russian nuclear attack. Russian military doctrine sanctions the use of nuclear weapons against the countries that do not possess nuclear weapons themselves if they are allied with those having them, said Russian General Anatoly Nogovitsyn.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is reported to have cancelled a scheduled visit to Poland shortly after the deal was announced.