Poland´s Own Anti-Russia Strategy
Surprising news surfaced in Poland last month. Warsaw has declared they are ready to pay up to 2 billion dollars to the United States in exchange for permanent U.S. military presence on Poland’s soil. This is even though Poland, as a NATO and EU member, has formally signed up for a coordinated economic and military policy on Russia.
The information was brought by a news portal onet.pl which acquired an official document named “Proposal for a U.S. Permanent Presence in Poland”. The document, although not officially released by the Polish Ministry of Defence, was distributed in the U.S. Congress, most important think tanks and government institutions.
Poland wants a permanent US military residence so badly, it's willing to pay $2 billion to get it https://t.co/8KGDqEWLPA
— POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) May 28, 2018
The Polish Ministry of Defence meanwhile confirmed the authenticity of the document and informed that the defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak has already held talks in Washington. The proposed deal is widely understood as a reaction to the Russian military aggression in Ukraine which makes Poland, a Russian neighbour itself, concerned about its own security. The proposal represents Poland’s enduring desire for closer security relations with the U.S. Permanent military presence in Poland is, however, also in line with Donald Trump’s goals in the region. In his 2017 Warsaw speech, President Trump warned about “dire threats to our security and to our way of life”.
Russia, understandably, sees things rather differently. According to Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, the presence of the U.S. military in Poland “certainly does not contribute to security and stability on the continent in any way” and can “result in counteractions of the Russian side to balance the parity which is violated every time this way”. Nonetheless, he claimed it is a Poland’s “sovereign decision”.
Deployment of permanent American troops in Poland could also be seen as undermining the NATO-Russia Founding Act from 1997, which was supposed to mitigate tension and support cooperation. “The Act is not a legally binding document and Moscow has definitively created a new geopolitical status quo”, the Polish Ministry of Defence claims in the proposal.
The end of the political crisis in Italy?
In the last Italian elections, on March 4, two populist parties – the leftist M5S and the right-wing League – gained considerable support. Lengthy negotiations about forming the government coalition followed. The two populist parties initially refused to cooperate but after a few weeks they found common ground which ultimately led to a coalition agreement
The post of the Prime Minister was given to Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with ties to the M5S, who chose the eurosceptic economist Paolo Savona as a finance minister. President Sergio Mattarella found this choice problematic because Savona is an open advocate for leaving the Eurozone. Therefore, he pressed Conte to replace Savona and with the biggest hurdle out of the way the new government was sworn in on July 1.
— Bloomberg (@business) May 29, 2018
A government formed by two populist Eurosceptic parties worries not only the EU leaders but also the financial markets. While the end of the longest period without a government in Italian history may bring some stability and the post of the finance minister is not held by a radical Eurosceptic, the coalition agreement between the M5S and the League still contains contradictory economic policies such as tax cuts (proposed by the League) or a universal basic income (proposed by the M5S). An attempt to implement them at once may result either in economic crisis or break up of the government coalition. This and other disagreements suggest that even if the new government gets the confidence vote in both chambers of the Italian parliament, the political turmoil in Italy is far from over.
Israel-Hamas ceasefire crumbling
May 2 witnessed the most intense flare-up of hostilities in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the 2014 Gaza War. The overnight exchange of fired rockets, mortars and air strikes came after weeks of increased tensions and a deadly unrest in the Gaza strip. The exchange was initiated by an Islamic Jihad group which vowed to avenge deaths of its three members from the week before.
Israel has launched airstrikes on at least 15 targets in the Gaza Strip with no reports of injuries so far. https://t.co/tzwwBvW8Uf
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) June 3, 2018
The official reason for the escalation provided by the Palestinian militants is Israel’s killing of at least 116 Palestinians since March 30 in border protests. The escalation, however, brought about a fragile ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, dominated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both internationally recognised terrorist organisations.
Following Egyptian arbitration, the two conflict sides tacitly agreed to withhold from the continuation of hostilities provided the other side does the same. Hamas’s deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya said the group was committed to a truce as long as Israel was. On the other hand, Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz reinstated Israel’s disinclination towards further escalation, given already strong international condemnation for the use of deadly force against mass demonstrators in Gaza.
Despite the agreement, the Israeli military launched airstrikes on more than dozen Hamas militant sites in Gaza on June 3 in response to the resumption of rocket fire towards Israel. Targets included military compounds, munition factories and naval forces. Palestinian militants resumed violence and effectively undermined the truce after the lethal shooting of a 21-year-old female Palestinian medic, Razan al-Najjar by Israeli soldiers on Friday.
Razan al-Najjar, 20, was trying to help an injured protester near the border fence when she was fatally shot by Israeli soldiers, witnesses say. Last month, she spoke to The Times about the challenges she faced as a female medical volunteer.
Read more: https://t.co/hEa8XXPAog pic.twitter.com/iIt0z6VnH5
— New York Times Video (@nytvideo) June 2, 2018
The fragility of the truce stemmed from its lack of formality and a continuing failure to resume constructive peace talks which collapsed in April 2014. The overall effect of the latest exchange of fire on the ceasefire is yet to be known.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons | Israel Defense Forces (CC BY-SA 2.0)
STRATPOL Memos is a project which on a bi-weekly basis provides a short overview of the most important selected moments of Euro-Atlantic security and related areas. Our goal is to provide brief and informative comments with short analysis putting news into broader context.
Responsible editor Ondřej Zacha.
The text has not undergone language revision.