– The current situation around Ukraine shows that Poland was right to warn about the construction of Nord Stream2 from the beginning – Wojciech Skurkiewicz, Deputy Minister of National Defence, said. But milk has been spilt; today, Vladimir Putin is blackmailing Europe and standing at the gates of Ukraine – he added.
Asked on Friday in PR24 (Polish Radio 24) how he assesses the current situation around Ukraine, Skurkiewicz replied that it is very tense and dynamic. However, at the same time, he expressed hope that everything would have a good result.
– Today, Poland is visited by Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense of the United States. These are very important talks with Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak President Andrzej Duda, so the end of the week is very exciting on the one hand, but also very important for our country and security in Eastern Europe – assessed the deputy minister.
As he added, it turned out that Poland was right to raise the alarm from the beginning about the construction of Nord Stream2.
– Today gas is absolutely an opportunity to blackmail Europe, the eastern part of Europe, and central Europe, where the main supplier of this fuel is Gazprom. We have been talking about this for many years. Unfortunately, many politicians in the European Union did not want to listen. Today many of them say that Poland was right after all – Skurkiewicz noted.
But, unfortunately, the milk has been spilt. Today, Putin is blackmailing Europe and standing at the gates of Ukraine. And unfortunately, this is happening from three directions, not only from the Russian Federation, but also through exercises that till 20 February are conducted on the territory of Belarus – from the Belarusian side, and the Black Sea, the deputy minister noted.
He recalled that the current situation in Poland, where some 10,000 American troops, 1,000 British soldiers and troops from other NATO countries have arrived due to rising tensions, is a result of the 2016 NATO summit in Warsaw.
– Indeed, that NATO summit in Warsaw was a great success, because thanks to it today we have several thousand American and allied troops on NATO’s eastern flank – emphasised the deputy head of the defence ministry.
According to him, it is an effect of the policy of the ruling Law and Justice party, which shows how well Poland manages the international arena in dangerous situations. These are threatening the whole Alliance, as a state on NATO’s eastern flank, a state bordering with Russia, Belarus or Ukraine.
Asked about Minister Blaszczak regarding the US State Department’s approval for the export of the most modern version of Abrams tanks to Poland, he said he hoped that the first units would be with us later this year. “This is a very good decision, and I am convinced that any moment now, the agreement will be signed,” he stressed.
– According to the agreed timetable – although it was adopted in the second half of last year – the first Abrams tanks were expected to reach Poland in 2022. I hope that this year the first equipment will reach the 18th Mechanised Division, which is stationed east of the Vistula River and safeguards the eastern part of the country – he assessed.
Mariusz Blaszczak tweeted on Friday that the State Department had agreed to sell Poland 250 Abrams tanks in the state-of-the-art M1A2 SEPv3 version. These tanks are an extremely important strengthening of our defence capabilities and one of Polish history’s most important arms contracts.
Russian-Belarusian military exercises have occurred since 10 February, and manoeuvres in the Black Sea began on 13 February. All these activities are due to end by 20 February. Russia assures that soldiers taking part in the Belarus exercises will return to units in Russia after the exercises.
Russia has amassed over 100 000 troops on its territory near the border with Ukraine and Belarus. Western countries are concerned about the concentration of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine and have warned Moscow of the consequences of possible aggression against the country. However, Russia says it has no such plans while demanding “guarantees” from the US and NATO about not expanding the Alliance into Ukraine and withdrawing its infrastructure “from its borders”.
At the end of last year, Russia made a series of demands on the US and NATO, calling them proposals on security guarantees. First, Russia demands legal guarantees that NATO will not be expanded to include Ukraine; the Alliance countries have already ruled out meeting this demand. If the demands are not met, Moscow has announced steps, including military ones, although it has not specified what these might be.
Ukraine and Western countries believe that Russia’s concentration of troops near the Ukrainian border is intended to pressure Kyiv and the capitals that support it. Military experts and Western governments speak of a real threat of Russian aggression.
Diplomatic talks are underway.