WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland put on its biggest military parade in years Friday to mark its annual armed forces holiday, with the president saying the violence in Ukraine shows that conflict is still a “brutal reality” in Eastern Europe and Poland must be able to defend itself.
Fighter jets and military helicopters flew over Warsaw as tanks rolled through the capital. More than 1,000 Polish soldiers marched, joined by dozens of U.S. and Canadian troops who are in Poland for NATO exercises.
The parade came on the Aug. 15 holiday that honors a stunning Polish victory against Russian Bolsheviks in 1920.
Poland has been occupied or controlled by Moscow for much of the past two centuries, leaving Poles shaken by the current Russian aggression in neighboring Ukraine. The government has reacted with appeals to NATO to set up permanent bases in Poland but is facing resistance from Germany and some other members.
“The Russian-Ukrainian conflict clearly shows that not all of the nations in our region can live in security,” President Bronislaw Komorowski said in a speech before the parade.
Poland is by far the most “westernized” and economically successful of the former Warsaw Pact states now aligned with NATO.
Poland is also the historical dividing line between eastern and western Europe, and as such has historically been attacked by both sides to be used as either a buffer or as an avenue of attack .
For all that, they’re a fiercely independent minded people. They know western Europe poses no threat to them today, and that Putin’s expansionist Russia does. Hence the display of military might.
I don’t think Poland is concerned that Russia will make a move right now. I think they’re concern is that Russia may soon enough digest its gains in Ukraine, and shift its hunger back to its traditional satrap of Poland.
Poland isn’t the only country with that concern. Spill pointed out to me that tiny Estonia also is looking to make itself unattractive as possible to Russia.
TALLINN, August 14 (RIA Novosti) – Estonia’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that a US Army armored infantry company equipped with M1 Abrams tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers will be stationed in the country, Postimees newspaper reported Thursday.
Peeter Kuimet, the representative of Estonian Defense Ministry’s press service, confirmed to this to the newspaper, adding that details regarding the exact number of personnel, the date of arrival, home station and the number of tanks and other hardware are being worked out.
Earlier, US Stars and Stripes newspaper reported that in October four companies with a total of 600 troops from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry US Army Division, will be moved to Poland and the Baltic states to replace units from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, currently stationed in the region.
A heavy company, or a light battalion, isn’t really combat power. It’s a political statement, however, that any Russian shift to the Baltic will have greater consequences than its actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Obama won’t be in office forever. It’s quite possible the next administration won’t be as catastrophically bad at foreign policy.