No Nato bases in Poland?
In the run-up to the Nato summit in July the presence of Nato troops in Eastern Europe is once again under discussion. German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen stressed on Friday that the alliance should not set up permanent military bases in Poland but focus instead on a rotating presence in several countries. Commentators from Romania and Poland take stock of the proposal.
Von der Leyen finds clear words
Journalist Marek Świerczyński, who specialises in security topics, is full of praise for von der Leyen's candid stance, and explains why in his blog with news magazine Polityka:
“The strategy contains concrete changes in the deployment of the fifth-generation F-22 planes that are stationed at Nato bases in Germany. They would be used for defence against Russian air strikes and to eliminate Iskander missiles. … This approach would replace the creation of permanent bases in Poland, as we have known for several months. Her plan, which was put forward at the Globsec [security conference], can be described as a breakthrough. … This is because von der Leyen has finally made her stance clear without hiding behind diplomatic formulations. … She has stated clearly that the West must respect the Nato-Russia Founding Act signed in 1997, because the pact clearly offers better alternatives for preventing potential aggressions.”
Reaction would be too slow in an emergency
Ursula von der Leyen's plans don't go far enough, British journalist Edward Lucas writes in the blog portal Contributors:
“The talk at the Globsec security conference in Bratislava last weekend was that 'persistent rotation' is all but agreed upon. That means - a big shift - quite large numbers of U.S. and other foreign troops regularly moving in and out of the frontline states. Moreover, it looks likely that the headquarters for NATO’s new rapid-reaction force will be based in Poland: not quite a 'base,' but still a symbolic and physical reminder of the alliance’s commitment to territorial defence. ... The Kremlin still has two advantages. Nato’s decision-making is too slow. Russia can create chaos - riots, ecological and infrastructure emergencies, problems with transit to Kaliningrad - as a pretext for 'humanitarian' intervention. The frontline states invoke the alliance’s Article 5. But the North Atlantic Council might take days to be sufficiently convinced to authorize a military response. By that time it might be too late.”