In October, sources reported that Poland was in the running to receive missile interceptors under President Barack Obama’s new missile defense plan. Last week, Poland’s defense minister announced that the U.S. plans to deploy Patriot missiles to Poland near the Russian border. In response, Russia intends to beef up its Baltic fleet. (Source)
Poland will install a base with several launch pads and manned by U.S. troops. Responding to Russia’s plans to shore up its Baltic fleet, a high-ranking source in the Polish Foreign Ministry downplayed the threat. “Let’s stay calm. Such strengthening, even if it becomes true, is no direct threat to Poland. The Russians have known about the Patriots for at least two years. So there is no reason to react to unofficial comments.”
Signed in November, the deal between the U.S. and Poland sends about 100 U.S. troops to Poland. Although the deal reflects both countries’ aim to protect the region from missile attacks, the plan is seen as offensive in nature from Russia’s perspective, rather than defensive.
Last year, President Barack Obama dropped Bush-era plans to deploy missile defense shields to Poland and the Czech Republic, the goal of which was to protect the region from Iranian attacks. Russia opposed the shields and threatened to install missiles near Poland’s border. Obama said he reneged on the agreements to focus on systems that would defend against Iran’s shorter-range missiles rather than long-range.
“In pulling the plug on the Bush missile-defense plan in Eastern Europe last month,” the Heritage Foundation‘s Peter Brookes wrote in the New York Post last year, “the White House came up with a new architecture based on a new evaluation of existing intelligence on the Iranian ballistic-missile threat…The Pentagon now insists Iran is moving faster on its short- and medium-range ballistic-missile programs than on its long-range ICBM effort, against which the Czech and Polish sites were aimed. (Of course, many experts think progress in one missile program supports another.)”