Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs on NATO

Tuesday 16 September, 2008

Radoslaw Sikorski, Poland’s minister of foreign affairs, came to Chicago (he didn’t even visit Washington, D.C.)  @ this event NATO’s past, present, & future:  a view from Europe sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.  Pan (Mr.) Sikorski put Russia’s passive era-ending excursion into Georgia into perspective.  Although it’s still unsure whether this is a remote crisis or a pattern, Russia refuses to be subjugated to anyone, & that new threat needs to be addressed.  If the problems in Georgia are copied in the Ukraine, (a Russian “artificially-created” state, he claims), to protect ethnic Russians, then we have a real problem.  Poles are slavs too, but don’t feel a kinship with Russians.  Despite the fact that the US hasn’t really reacted to the events in Georgia, NATO needs to rearm as a military organization, complete with intelligence operations.  Gasprom needs to be regulated by regulators in the EU, just like Microsoft is.

Q&A revealed-the Poles are threatened once/quarter by the placement of weapons in Kaliningrad by the Russians, in response to hosting NATO missiles on Polish soil.  They hope to rid Poland (Europe?) of nuclear weapons in the next 5 years in reaction to present nuclear threats.  Otherwise, NATO’s reaction could lead to an unattractive spiral escalation of retaliations.  Russia should now be considered a competitor rather than a partner & we need to recognize we can no longer influence Russian internal politics. The EU needs to send more troops into Afghanistan, defend Georgia & the Ukraine.   The developed countries need to teach Russia how to develop its economy. Russia has the advantage that its neighbors are weak, so they dominate that periphery.

I spent 7+ months in Poland & feel that I know it fairly well.  What concerns me most is the small Russian-controlled peninsula of Kaliningrad tucked in along the Baltic Sea between Poland & Lithuania.  This small part of Russia directly abuts Poland & is akin to Cuba’s proximity to the U.S., & hence could have the risk of a European Bay of Pigs.  That & the EU needs to better regulate oil coming in from Russia so that they are not held hostage economically by political whims out of Moscow.  Russia’s power is fueled by oil money, so Europeans diversifying their sources of oil would lessen their dependence on Russian oil.

One comment

  1. A good summary. I don’t recall however Sikorski saying that Ukraine was a Russian “artificially-created” state.

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