Polish minister: Russia planning aggression against NATO
At least one NATO country has no illusions about Russia's intentions in Eastern Europe. The Polish defense minister says Russia is preparing for "aggressive action" against NATO and that "it's time to talk about it openly."
Poland, a former Soviet satellite state, fears Russia is seeking to extend its influence beyond its borders after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and continues to support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Earlier this month, two Russian warplanes flew simulated attack passes near a U.S. guided missile destroyer which had just left the Polish port of Gdynia. A U.S. official said this was one of the most aggressive interactions between the two sides in recent memory.
"So far, all Russian behavior attests to systematic preparation for aggressive action," Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz told the Rzeczpospolita daily in an interview published on Tuesday.
"And it's time to talk about it openly."
Warsaw will host a NATO heads of state summit in July, where it will push for an increased military presence on the alliance's eastern flank.
In 2014, NATO suspended cooperation with Russia over its role the conflict in Ukraine. Russia says deployment of significant NATO forces close to its borders would violate the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act.
The 1980s are calling, but President Obama is asleep.
In "The Guns of August" by Barbara Tuchman, the Great Powers in Europe blundered into war because they invariably misinterpreted the intentions of their opponents, as seemingly coincidental or innocuous statements and actions were seen as aggressive moves.
We're assuming that Vladimir Putin has some master plan that is unfolding before our eyes. He may, indeed, be following a script he has written himself. It's also possible that we are misinterpreting these aggressive actions, placing more emphasis on them than they deserve, making it appear that Putin is preparing for war.
The buzzing of our destroyer in the Baltic, overflying Turkish air space, continued support for Ukraine separatists, and other recent provocations may all be targets of opportunity rather than part of plan. Putin is aggressive, that's for sure. But there is no massive movement of troops to the Polish frontier or to the borders of the Baltic states. Putin is playing the long game, and if the opportunity to strike the West presents itself, holding a reasonable possibility of victory, I don't doubt for a minute that he will fail to take advantage.