US Ambassador to Poland, Paul W. Jones, discussed the current tension between NATO and the Kremlin ahead of the start of construction of a missile-shield base in Poland.
The construction of a missile-shield base in Redzikowo, northern Poland, will start on Friday.
The shield is designed to protect US troops and NATO allies against ballistic missiles. The base is set to be ready for operation in 2018.
“It’s a missile defense site which is a US and Poland’s contribution to NATO missile defence from outside of the Euro-Atlantic area, particularly the potentials of missiles coming from the Middle East,” Ambassador Jones told Polish Radio.
“And what Poland will see over the next two years is that as construction goes forward, we will put in place American soldiers to operate the missile defence site. [This figure will] probably be 150-200 soldiers over the next year-and-a-half to two years.”
Targets of Russia
Ambassador Jones was asked to comment on Russian media reports which said that with building such bases, Poland and Romania would become Russian targets.
“We’ve discussed this site and the site in Deveselu [in southern Romania] and the entire missile defence complex with the Russians for many years. We’ve discussed that it’s a defensive site against missiles from the Middle East.
“I can only explain Russia’s comments in terms of disinformation, [and] propaganda, because they know very clearly what the site is capable of, and what it’s designed to do. But we certainly are fully prepared for all contingencies regarding these sites,” Ambassador Jones, who took on the role in September 2015, said.
“I think Russia’s goal is to divide the NATO alliance, and the Transatlantic community and introduce uncertainty into the relations among countries, and I don’t think it’s succeeding. Well, I think you’re going to see that at the NATO summit in Warsaw, a very strong statement and actions that demonstrate NATO unity.
A success for Poland?
The NATO summit in Warsaw which will be held in July will be attended by US President Barack Obama.
“We are completely confident that [the Summit] is going to be a very important success. These summits happen every two years, and are a real turning point for NATO. NATO is the strongest alliance in history, and Europe and the Transatlantic community are confronting a wider range of more intense threats now than any time in a long time, so it’s important that this summit is a success,” the US Ambassador said.
Under a deal signed in 2010 the US will station SM-3 ballistic missile interceptors in the village of Redzikowo, northern Poland, with the aim of protecting NATO countries from the potential threat of ballistic missiles launched from "rogue states".
The SM-3 missile plan replaced a Bush administration proposal to develop a fully land-based missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic, which was cancelled by President Obama in September 2009. (rg)