Poland buying US cruise missiles will 'lead to conflict'

Poland buying US cruise missiles will 'lead to conflict'

Poland's decision to buy 70 new long range missiles for its F-16 fighter jets will be taken “into account in our military planning”, according to Russia's ambassador to Nato. 

 

A retired Polish vice-admiral also warned the multi-million dollar purchase will "lead to conflict". 

 

Russia ambassador Alexander Grushko said Moscow would closely monitor the plans to buy the US-made JASSM-ER class air-to-surface missiles. 

 

The $225m (£209m) deal with US defence contractor Lockheed Martin was announced by the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency in late November. 

 

Retired Polish Vice-Admiral Marek Toczek said it would “worsen Russian-Polish ties”.

 

"This step will further tighten the spiral of mistrust, strengthen unnecessary irritation and provoke a conflict," he told the state run Russian news agency, Sputnik News. "Unfortunately, Poland's ruling Law and Justice Party is pursuing a policy that is prompting a huge negative reaction."

 

He also warned that the decision to buy the missiles would "lead to conflict", adding that Russia was taking “appropriate steps to neutralise the potential of these missiles”.

 

But Poland's government believe the measures are necessary to protect Poland’s sovereignty from an increasingly aggressive Moscow.

 

Russia's annexation of the Crimea in 2014, repeated incursions into Ukrainian territory and arming of rebels in the restive Donetsk region, has provoked fears of similar actions in Poland. 

 

US Congressmen are currently visiting Poland and other Baltic states in a bid to reassure them about Washington’s commitment to Nato and protecting Eastern Europe from Russian aggression. 

 

Their visit comes after President-elect Donald Trump hinted at plans to ease US sanctions against Moscow over its conduct in Ukraine once he is sworn in.

 

“I think the presence of the American troops here in Estonia is a signal that we believe in what Ronald Reagan believed, and that is peace through strength," said US Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain. 

 

“And the best way to prevent Russian misbehaviour by having a credible, strong military and a strong Nato alliance”.

 

Earlier this month, Nato announced 300,000 ground troops stationed in Europe had been put on “high alert”. 

 

It follow's Poland's announcement that its own 53,000 strong volunteer force which will be ready by 2019.

 

In October, the Kremlin has ramped up tensions further by sailing a flotilla of warships through the English Channel and deploying some of its nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad – an enclave of Russian territory between Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic coast separate from the mainland.

 

Although it was never part of the USSR, Poland was under a satellite communist state and trapped behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War as a member of the Warsaw Pact – which was originally formed as a counterweight to Nato in 1955 and dissolved in 1991. 

  

 

The Independent 

  

 

06.01.2017

 

 

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