moja polska zbrojna
Od 25 maja 2018 r. obowiązuje w Polsce Rozporządzenie Parlamentu Europejskiego i Rady (UE) 2016/679 z dnia 27 kwietnia 2016 r. w sprawie ochrony osób fizycznych w związku z przetwarzaniem danych osobowych i w sprawie swobodnego przepływu takich danych oraz uchylenia dyrektywy 95/46/WE (ogólne rozporządzenie o ochronie danych, zwane także RODO).

W związku z powyższym przygotowaliśmy dla Państwa informacje dotyczące przetwarzania przez Wojskowy Instytut Wydawniczy Państwa danych osobowych. Prosimy o zapoznanie się z nimi: Polityka przetwarzania danych.

Prosimy o zaakceptowanie warunków przetwarzania danych osobowych przez Wojskowych Instytut Wydawniczy – Akceptuję

NATO, Time of Trial

With Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas, Wojciech Lorenz and Witold Rodkiewicz about the significance of NATO membership for Poland, deterrence strategy and the engagement of the North Atlantic Alliance outside the treaty area talk Tadeusz Wróbel and Łukasz Zalesiński.

25 years ago Poland joined NATO. In surveys conducted by the Center for Public Opinion Search (CBOS) during 2022-2023, the support for membership of our country in the Alliance was expressed by over 90% of the respondents, and at the same time 42% of them stated that the level of security has decreased. These data, of course, not necessarily are at variance with each other. In your opinion, to what extent Poland’s membership in NATO fulfilled the expectations the Poles had 25 years ago at the moment of joining the pact? Also, to what extent has the NATO membership strengthened the position of Poland on the international arena?

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: It has, quite significantly, and fulfilled our expectations and goals, both, if it comes to increasing security, and to creating conditions in Poland to return to western civilization after forced dependency from the Eastern Bloc. Now, it’s up to Poland whether we want to fully transform according to western standards. With NATO membership, Poland won’t feel threatened with being isolated in Europe or the world, being a black economy or anyone’s buffer.

REKLAMA

Wojciech Lorenz: I absolutely agree with the opinion that Polish security has been strengthened. Optimal conditions for growth have been created – it’s enough to mention the unprecedented growth in the recent 30 years in Poland, i.e. joining NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. At this time, we ran a painful, harsh, but gigantic transformation of our armed forces, inherited from the Polish People’s Republic. Simultaneously, we had to adjust to entirely new strategic condition. In many areas, we obviously could have made things differently, maybe even better.

All those who now sense this feeling of threat from Russia can see how for over three decades have been an incredibly stable, peaceful period, which helped Poland to grow and economically strengthen. The fact that we have a strong, resilient economy, helps us to run the defense transformation rather smoothly in the conditions of the worsening security environment. Particularly that this political consensus, at least within some areas of security and defense policy, is being maintained. Also, the public opinion supports the increased defense expenses.

Witold Rodkiewicz: I fully agree with the previous speakers. It’s hard to even imagine the arguments supporting the idea that in consequence of Poland’s joining NATO Polish security decreased. However, I would like to talk about two things. First thing is opposition to NATO, on one hand, and on the other hand – strengthening our own potential. In my opinion, and perhaps it’s an overinterpretation, this is an after-effect of thinking about NATO as an outside organization in relation to us. While we should be thinking quite the opposite: we are NATO, and the strengthening of our potential is the strengthening of NATO potential. This is not mutually exclusive. As to the other issue, NATO has not gone through its most important test yet, which would be a response to aggression. However, various signs in heaven and on earth show that these scenarios – Russian armed aggression – cannot be ruled out. Still, however, I’m optimistic in this matter and think that NATO will react adequately, when it comes to confrontation.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: Has NATO never been tested? The effectiveness of deterrence, both retaliation and access denial deterrence, is revealed exactly when a potential enemy does not attack. As long as there is no immediate attack on NATO territory, such strategy is working, because the effectiveness of deterrence means the enemy does not hit. The peace itself is a test, in which the Alliance is scoring positive.

Witold Rodkiewicz: As long as we’re not attacked, the test is positive, still we can’t rule out an attack for certain. It’s only then when we know NATO passes the test.

Wojciech Lorenz: We need to clarify one thing here – in a NATO doctrine and strategy, we talk about deterrence and defense. If deterrence doesn’t work, we will have to take some defense activity. And, not jumping in any academic divagations, the question with deterrence is that perhaps it does work, since the Alliance hasn’t been attacked so far. However, we don’t really know what affects the Russian calculations, as Vladimir Putin had decided to attack Ukraine, and not the Baltic states. If he had wanted to make NATO collapse and assumed the Alliance would not respond, he would probably have decided to attack NATO member states. This would mean deterrence had failed. Putin has had numerous occasions to try and carry out his strategic goals – such as the collapse of NATO and making the United States not being perceived as a superpower, providing their allies with actual security guarantees – and yet, he’s never taken any such actions. In my opinion, this proves the deterrence works.

What can tempt Putin into taking a risk of confrontation with NATO?

Wojciech Lorenz: The following scenario, such as: The war on the Pacific caused by China’s attempt to take control over Taiwan, where the United States are intervening; at the same time, American president negatively perceives Europe and sees it more like a competitor than an ally, and Russia attacks NATO member states on the eastern flank. The USA’s help is symbolic. Such a situation would be a test of both, the capability and credibility of NATO.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: Let’s imagine that in such a situation Poland is not a member of NATO nor the EU. What situation Poland would be in then? Very similar to the one Ukrainians experience today.

We don’t question the effectiveness of deterrence strategy, but as of recently, politicians and military commanders have expressed their opinion that we must prepare for war. The question is whether we consider the notion that deterrence strategy may not be enough.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: It may not be enough. No strategy is for sure. Nothing in general – public, social, political, or military issues – is ever for sure. The world, its future, is made of probabilities. There is a high probability that deterrence is effective, rather nuclear than conventional one, but still, it’s not even 100% guarantee. Please, consider the difference, as there is a difference between a 100% probability and certainty that something will or will not occur. For that reason, the Alliance should also prepare for the black scenarios.

Witold Rodkiewicz: You can also approach this issue differently, that is think about what increases deterrence, considering mentality, strategic and political culture of currently ruling clique in Russia. As long as western states will not have in the region of Central and Eastern Europe adequate military capabilities, which – from the point of view of the Russian rulers – will eliminate the chance for successful aggression, the risk of attack will continue to exist. In time of Cold War, for instance, at the front line of NATO in West Germany a significant military forces were deployed for potential conventional defense.

Apart from having in proximity the line of a potential clash of the forces, which prevent the enemy from thinking that winning is possible even in a short encounter, equally important is the question of sending signals. In a Russian political thinking, particularly of the group in power, the role of a political will is quite emphasized. For that reason, I think it necessary to precisely and decisively present our standpoint that in case of attack, we will fight.

There shouldn’t be no doubts or discussions here. One example here, which may not be liked in Europe, is shooting down the Russian Su-24M bomber by Turkey near the border with Syria. This incident did not lead to a war, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan halted the ambitions of the Russians who started to treat him as a serious player. I’m not calling on anybody to shoot Russian fighters down, but the red lines should be clearly marked and effectively guarded, as there is nothing worse than to show that crossing those lines may go unpunished.

Wojciech Lorenz: And those red lines, for the need of credible deterrence, the new strategy of the Alliance is trying to mark. The strategy says we will defend every inch of NATO territory. When it was adopted, what followed were the changes in the structure of forces, also relating to the strengthening of NATO presence on the eastern flank. Work is ongoing over the new structure, where significantly greater forces than today will be under the command of SACEUR. Our main task is to deter Russian forces or prevent them from entering the territories of NATO states to avoid Ukrainian scenario. There, the inability to regain control over the lost territory becomes a tramp card, and in the eyes of aggressor is the sign of weakness of those who cannot resume the status quo.
Other thing is violating airspace, like it has been in the Turkish example. Turkey was able to calculate that its demonstration of power by shooting down the Russian aircraft would not lead to any greater escalation. Still, from the perspective of the entire Alliance, this operation was unnecessary and emotional. Which is why I would not recommend unnecessary shooting-downs of any Russian fighters or Belarussian helicopters violating our airspace. We must nevertheless demonstrate that we have the capability to detect such violations and to react if such incident was to precede an actual aggression.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: It would be best, if possible, to have orders for the use of force within NATO structures. The Alliance commanders should decide on that. Why? The Alliance is powerful as a whole. Unity is necessity, when on one side, there is Russia, and on the other side, a small or medium country.

Wojciech Lorenz: Apart from that, a decision on launching Article 5 of NATO requires unanimity. Therefore, all member states must assess the situation in the same way, recognize the fact that a threat of aggression is real. Our unreasonable reaction, provoked by something, which was testing our readiness, may force the other side to counterattack severely. Our allies, in turn, may blame us for escalation, and refuse to support us.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: In regard to a strategic culture and the way the authorities in Russia think, I think that Putin felt encouraged to attack Ukraine on a full scale, when NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan meant that most of its political goals had not been accomplished. Although Al-Qaeda and other similar organizations have not renewed their terrorist activity in the world so far, still Afghanistan has not been transformed into a “Switzerland of Hindukush.” The lost war in Afghanistan was obviously recognized in Russia, particularly by the Kremlin and Russian military commands, as a sign of NATO weakness. Unfortunately, such different matters affect each other, which is underestimated. I think that a decision of President Donald Trump about the withdrawal of the United States, which was followed by NATO and the United Nations, was reckless, and the global effects had not been taken into account. It was also very non-American, though the United States learned in the 20th century, starting from the WWI, to always consider global effects of any decision, even a local or regional one.

Wojciech Lorenz: True, in a public debate in western states the word ‘war’ has been coming up, and it had been a taboo word for several decades before. This should be perceived as an instrument for putting a pressure on a public opinion, society, and decision-makers in order to mobilize the support to increase budget for defense and modernization. According to a new NATO strategy, first the secret military one in 2020, then unclassified political one announced at the summit in Madrid in 2022, it was decided to cease focusing on the crisis-response missions and developing capabilities for operations abroad. The Alliance is coming back to its roots, and its main mission is collective defense. NATO must however have capability to react to widely understood terrorist threats, so all member states are safe in the knowledge that NATO equally defends their security.

When we were joining NATO, a strong emphasis was put on the fact that this organization was to ensure security to the members in the Euro-Atlantic region. Soon after Poland joined NATO, there occurred a global threat with terror and the Alliance engaged in military operations in the distance theatres of operations. It was reflected in directions for the development of the armed forces of member states, and their resignation from some of heavy armament.

How did these changes affect the collective defense capabilities?

Wojciech Lorenz: In order to answer these questions, we should remind current trends. Since 1990s, the United States of America and most western countries perceived terrorism and WMD proliferation as main threats to security. Russia was not considered a threat, and it was assumed that a few decades would pass until there was one. The focus was put on the risk of a terrorist attack from terrorist organizations, which could be owning the weapons of mass destruction, and thus it was decided that what was needed was the capability to quickly react to it in any part of the world. At the time, only the United States had such capability, partially also France and Great Britain. NATO member states had to canal their efforts into joint response to threat that seemed most important at the time. They accelerated the process of getting rid of heavy weaponry, and the necessity to gain new capabilities was a good excuse for decisions on reductions, which nevertheless would have been done. We had a debate on that in Poland, too. There were opinions that our military potential had been limited, and we were supposed to invest in heavy armament. Still, was there any political will for such investments in our defense potential? Those who know the subject are aware that with the focus on missions, at least Rosomak IFVs were introduced to service, along with the improvement of a soldier’s personal weapon and equipment. In my opinion, the participation in foreign missions, although in a narrow aspect, still accelerated army modernization.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: I agree that without the participation of the Polish Armed Forces in the missions abroad, starting from the Balkans in the 1990s, it’s very probable that Poland would have never transformed in a serious member of NATO and the European Union in the military aspect. One must keep in mind that much more important for deterrence to be effective is nuclear weapon. As early as in 2016, there was a breakthrough at NATO summit in Warsaw, which was the effect of the worsening since about 2014 security situation in the world. This breakthrough was most appreciated by the states, which now have their own or American nuclear weapon located on their territory. In response to the Russian policy and strategy, NATO stated in its contemporary strategic concept that after several dozen years of decreasing the role and significance of nuclear weapon, there came a time to increase that role. What’s interesting, the greatest NATO state, Germany, which had before been very skeptical about this kind of weapon, after a long and sharp internal debate, decided to continue its nuclear-sharing arrangements.

You have mentioned that NATO is strong as a whole, a unity. This brings about concerns related to the result of presidential elections over the Atlantic. Some experts say that when Donald Trump wins, he can make attempts to fulfil his threats of the USA leaving NATO. How real such scenario is?

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: At the end of his first presidential term, Donald Trump started to withdraw American soldiers from Western Europe, but at the same time he never stopped the process of deploying additional forces in Poland. His inconsistent politics actually weakened NATO. Trump would multiple times announce the withdrawal of the United States from NATO, and as US President, he will have the right to do that. According to applied interpretation of American constitution, leaving the Treaty does not require a consent of the US Senate, which is necessary for ratification. As of recently, the US Congress has enacted the act prohibiting the President from unilaterally withdrawing from NATO without its approval, but Trump could appeal, with uncertain result, to the Supreme Court of the United States on a charge of the act being unconstitutional. This would obviously create a significant opposition in the national security establishment, but we don’t know if it would be as effective as it was during Trump’s first presidential term. Even then, however, his orders as the Commander-in-Chief were carried out. The risk of the USA leaving NATO is real not only because of Trump himself, but also because of the opinions he’s spreading among the Republican Party members, and even more among the voters of this party. Trump is a charismatic politician with features of an isolationist, and the Republicans start to be keen on the idea of isolationism, and some surveys indicate that such a standpoint is expressed by more than a half of American society.

Witold Rodkiewicz: A possible limitation of the role of the USA in NATO is not only a question of the risk or probability regarding Trump’s presidency. There is one more issue indirectly related to it. The United States see China as their main adversary, and despite the war in Ukraine, their priority remains the Pacific and East Asia. There is pressure for the USA to engage more intensively there, and as a result, Europe is expected to engage more in the matters of its own security. In Poland, there’s no problem with that. Although we’re not the richest, in the last two or three years we have increased our defense budget from 2 to 4% of GDP. There’s a question, though, whether our West European allies are willing to do the same. In my opinion, that’s a necessity, as Europe won’t survive as an independent political being, spending for defense less than 2% of GDP.

Wojciech Lorenz: We must say it out loud that keeping military forces in Europe is not an expression of the United States’ charity. They have certain political goal in that. Even if US President in an extreme situation decides to withdraw the US membership from NATO, he won’t withdraw all their forces from Europe. They are needed here to realize some global interests. Obviously, such course of events would be disadvantageous for the Alliance. However, owing to its potential, as well as to its bilateral agreements with the USA, Europe could be able to manage the crisis in such a way to minimize its effects. The Russian calculations do not have to change only because the US forces are stationed in Europe under the command of the US, and not NATO. I repeat: any potential withdrawal of the USA from the Alliance would be bad for us, but would not mean the end of the world for us.

Nevertheless, we agree that the presence of the US forces in Europe is one of the key factors in the architecture of collective security… On the other hand, as of recently, the attention of the USA has in fact to an increasing extent been focused on the area of the Indo-Pacific and a global competition with China. Considering the above, can we expect that in a near future the Americans will demand from their European allies their support in other regions of the world? And will the consequences of these changes be the expansion of NATO to Australia, Japan, or South Korea, for instance?

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: These are two different matters. There is a vivid discussion in NATO on the issue of approving those states, which are global partners to the Alliance. If this happens, NATO will have to change not only its founding assumptions, but also its very name…

…into the Oceanic Alliance.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: I estimate the probability of such far-reaching changes at less than 50%. A totally different issue is the area of responsibility of NATO. From the start, it covers not only western and central Europe, but also the territories of Canada and the United States, including Hawaii.

And Guam.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: As to that, it’s not that obvious. Guam is not located in North America, which is covered by NATO. Is Hawaii part of North America? Politically speaking – yes, it is, because it’s a US state. Back to merit, though. If North Korea threatens the United States with the attacks on the Pacific with the use of ballistic missiles with nuclear heads; if China quickly expands its military potential to challenge the USA, then the Alliance is obliged to react to such events. And such a reaction doesn’t have to mean changes in NATO, its name, or its expansion to the states of Asia and Oceania. It stems from the fundamental assumptions of the Alliance, which was established to defend the territories of its member states. And, frankly speaking, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the nearest future NATO established on the western coast of the USA or Canada a command like the one in Norfolk near Washington, which is responsible for activities in the North Atlantic.

Witold Rodkiewicz: We shouldn’t assume that NATO will send to the Pacific region some significant forces. It’s not what Americans expect. It’s more about reducing American effort by increasing European military capabilities in Europe, and only then it’s about symbolic presence of the European states in the East-Asian theatre. The open American-Chinese conflict, in turn, will bear also other far-reaching consequences for us, about which the European politicians seem to forget a little. I mean here economic issues. War would mean for Europe the necessity to break economic relations with China. The problem is discussed mainly within the European Union. The EU states are mostly NATO members with certain legal obligations. In case of conflict, we could not continue to run business with China.

Wojciech Lorenz: The American strategy assumes the possibility to win one full-scale conflict with an enemy of comparable potential, which means Russia or China. Obviously, China is perceived as a main threat. If at the same time war breaks out with other adversary, the USA would fight this adversary within the frames of a coalition. Such eventuality evokes some concerns among European allies, who are not certain what kind of forces the American would want to engage in such a case. Even more that there are voices in the USA that Europe should increase its defense budget, and cope with the problem alone. For that reason, to stop these kinds of speculations, it is necessary that we engage in the Indo-Pacific region. Such gestures bear enormous political weight.

We should add to this a practical dimension. Our common interest is caring about such areas as freedom of shipping, as any disturbance on maritime communication routes could dramatically affect European economy.

For the same reason Great Britain, France or Germany engaged in the operations defined as Freedom of Navigation Operations [FONOP] on the South China Sea. The same situation is with the air combat Exercise Pitch Black with the participation of Great Britain, France, Germany, or the Netherlands two years ago in Australia. Is such a demonstration of readiness to support the USA in different regions of the world is visible to the American public opinion? We could probably advertise ourselves more. Certainly, it’s a step in the right direction, and it will be continued. Most of these activities will of course be based on bilateral agreements, because such a visible engagement of NATO as an organization in the Indo-Pacific region could evoke the opposition of many member states. Sufficient to mention is France, which strongly emphasizes that the Alliance should concentrate on a collective defense in Europe. However, NATO tries to indicate that it can increase security in the region by tightening political and practical cooperation with four partners: Japan, Australia, South Korea, and New Zealand. A political visibility of this cooperation will be ensured by the format of NATO plus 4. At every NATO summit we will from now on hold meetings with the leaders of these four countries.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: We should keep in mind that in case of NATO, the mechanism of collective defense reaches the western coast of North America with additions such as some islands. But in a military strategy of any serious state or alliance there is an assumption that they would defend themselves only on their own territory after enemy forces cross the border. What’s best for a country is when it defends its territory abroad, in this case it would be in the Pacific Ocean. Which would be an argument for establishing on the West Coast the above-mentioned command or multinational naval and air forces.

Wojciech Lorenz: But if it came to the American-Chinese war for Taiwan, than we won’t see any NATO forces in this region. The goal of NATO invariably remains collective defense of territories of the member states based on Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty [which says that attacking one member states means attacking the entire NATO, and the Alliance is obliged to respond to such aggression]. It’s hard to think this will change.

The problem is that a decision on the invocation of Article 5 must be taken by NATO members unanimously. However, you can imagine a situation where in such a large group of countries, there will be at least one with doubts whether or not a gigantic war machine should be launched. On top of that, Article 5 is not precise what form such response to the attack should take. As a result, one member may want to send entire armies to the region of conflict, and according to the other one, an infantry battalion will do the job…

Wojciech Lorenz: Article 5 is set forth, colloquially speaking, rather softly. We must keep in mind, though, that it was a result of certain compromise. In 1949, the USA did not want to be bound by treaties very much, and if the Treaty had more decisive statements, the Congress could not have ratified it at all. A decision to invoke Article 5 will always stem from a political assessment of individual member states. This obviously may cause certain threats, but I wouldn’t demonize that. First, I am deeply convinced that even if there was a country that would break out, there would also be a way around it. Second, Article 5 is mostly for deterrence. Potential enemies should know that if they go too far, they will stand eye to eye with the most powerful political and military organization in the world. Regardless of circumstances, they must calculate the risk. We should also remember that Article 5 was already invoked once. This occurred after 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. The then NATO Secretary General considered it a good occasion to demonstrate the unity of the Alliance, and show that it also served the interests of the USA. Ultimately, the Americans went to war with the Taliban under their own flag, but NATO would provide various kinds of support to protect their territory, such as sending AWACS aircraft over the ocean. For that reason, despite many doubts, I recognize Article 5 as a strong instrument.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: True – treaties can have different powers, but the power of the North Atlantic Treaty is actually quite strong. I’m convinced that a country, which at the moment of attack would decide to block the invocation of Article 5 would suffer enormous political costs. I’d say even prohibitive costs. That’s why, although veto during such voting is technically possible, in practice it seems very unlikely. That’s not all. The power of NATO in this context is also its organizational culture. This civilizational community is now strengthened with its 75 years of cooperation – military, political, technological, industrial – and the obligation to help its members is functioning not only at the level of documents. It has become a sort of common law, a cultural norm, which is stronger even from Article 5.

Witold Rodkiewicz: But, which is understandable, we should consider very different scenarios. Russia will do all it can to maximize the occurrence of internal differences among NATO member states. Let’s imagine, for instance, such a scenario that on the territory of one Baltic state, a self-appointed republic is created, the leaders of which announce the law on self-determination of the Russian-speaking population. The situation becomes more and more tense, and out of the sudden some armed forces appear, which occupy a small part of the territory. Perhaps they even get a support later from a regular Russian army.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: The little green men in Latvia or Estonia…

Witold Rodkiewicz: Yes, Russia is experienced in implementing this kind of scenarios. It is exactly this scenario that is ongoing in Eastern Ukraine. Perhaps now, Russia will want to confront this scenario with NATO, too. The question is, how the Alliance will behave. Will these hybrid activity in the opinion of all members will become sufficient reason for taking action, which can lead to a full-scale war with Russia?

This is a matter of whether we are “ready to die for Gdańsk,” as we say it...

Witold Rodkiewicz: Exactly. That’s why what we definitely need here are consultations among member states, discussions, which would make us work out any emergency scenarios to apply in case of our adversary’s specific activities.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: That’s what’s happening right now. NATO one more time revised its operational plans, also called contingency plans.

Wojciech Lorenz: The plans were approved in July 2023, during the last NATO summit in Vilnius, and Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024, the greatest NATO maneuvers since the end of the Cold War, should test them in practice. The Alliance is doing tests on the activities that should be taken in the phase before a full-scale invasion, what forces to use, and where to direct them.

But I would like to go back to the credibility of Article 5 for a moment. As I have mentioned, it is a strong tool. Still, even if it fails, we have certain insurance policy. Keep in mind that NATO supreme commander in Europe is at the same time a commander of the American forces deployed on our continent. If for some reason Article 5 doesn’t work, the US forces could join their activity based on bilateral agreements that the United States have concluded with individual allies. The reason majority of US soldiers are stationed in Europe is because of this kind of documents. Such is the case with ABCT deployed in Poland. Obviously, a country opposing the use of Article 5 could make it difficult for the troops to cross its territory, just as now Hungary doesn’t give its consent for weapon transportation to Ukraine. But such obstacles also can be omitted. NATO planned for its forces alternative communication routes, and some countries can be passed over.

What about further expansion of NATO? There’s no consent in this matter. We don’t mean here such countries as Japan or Australia, but, for instance, Ukraine.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: Further expansion of NATO to the east is difficult, because among these countries are those who remain in an open conflict with Russia. In Ukraine, there is a full-scale war, in Georgia, we have now a cold war between legal powers and Abkhazia and South Osetia, separatist regions supported by the Kremlin. If NATO decided to accept these countries, it would automatically have to take action to bring back their territorial integrity, because that’s what NATO is about. This would mean an open encounter with Russia, and NATO doesn’t want that. NATO member states will continue provide weapon to Ukraine, and Georgia can probably count on their diplomatic support. But the expansion at this moment is impossible.

Wojciech Lorenz: Here, the key question is a political consensus in the USA. American elites would have to recognize beyond divisions that the expansion of NATO lies in the interest of the United States, and that the lives of their soldiers could be worth the risk, since potentially it can mean the entering an open conflict with Russia, a nuclear power. There is no such consensus in the matter of Ukraine in the USA, and I don’t suppose it will be in the nearest future. What’s more, Germany is not so enthusiastic about the expansion of NATO, either, and Germany is treated by the USA as the main European ally. Poland in this arrangement is kind of making its way with elbows, but that’s good, though our voice is not decisive here. What can we do? We should, as much as possible, influence the debates in the USA and Germany, convince our allies that the expansion of NATO to the east will make it easier to maintain peace and safety in Europe. Ukraine would become a more stable country, less vulnerable to external attacks, and millions of its citizens would come home to rebuild it and open Ukrainian market for western investments. There are quite many similar arguments, but the ball is now mainly on the side of Washington and Berlin.

Meanwhile, the lack of consensus about the expansion is not the only challenge NATO must face now. We’ve talked a lot about deterrence and preparation for potential invasion repulsion. But many member states still have problem with their defense spending level to reach assumed by NATO level of 2% GDP…

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: In recent years, it has been discussed a lot, but in my opinion the criticism of Western European states was a bit too much. We should keep in mind that the goal you have mentioned was to be reached in 2024. Many states will probably get there. Some of them, like Germany, which started from a very low level of 1% GDP, probably won’t make it, but still will come close to 2%. I think that after a full-scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine, Europe went through quite a breakthrough. The West managed to break down internal oppositions, and became to invest in its own security, not only by spending money on modernization of own armed forces. The best proof is the last assistance package for Ukraine – the European Union after long internal negotiations decided to give Ukraine another 50 billion euros. This money will go to the Ukrainian armed forces, but also for maintaining Ukrainian economy and state functioning, which is extremely important for the course of war.

Wojciech Lorenz: At the same time, different countries due to their location will have different perceptions of threats, and we won’t change that. Fortunately, the 2% GDP for defense is also a tool for political pressure, which now has been growing to some extent. For us it is important to maintain integrity of the Alliance, but also, we must keep in mind our own interests. One of them is development of our own armed forces – we spend 4% of our GDP for that – which gives us arguments for working on bilateral contacts with the USA.

Summarizing: What’s the future of NATO?

Wojciech Lorenz: For sure, the upcoming years will not be easy, and will require mobilization and determination from allies. NATO has been strengthening its potential, tries to systematize activities. We have mentioned already that at the summit in Vilnius the new defense plans were approved, and in case of war they assign specific forces to specific geographical regions. The moment Article 5 is invoked, there will be no debates or negotiations, who will assign what forces. Each army has its assignment already. What we are left to do now is to strengthen our military potential. Even if the blackest scenario becomes real, and the USA withdraws from the Alliance, we still have our bilateral agreements between the countries. They diminish the risk that at the moment of trial Europe and Poland will be alone. Regardless of that, we should own the greatest possible own potential, which will ensure that we have maximum defense capability.

Grzegorz Kostrzewa-Zorbas: NATO is strong not only in a political dimension and not only because of its conventional forces. Remember, we still have nuclear weapon ready. The United States, Great Britain and France have it. The Alliance never said that such weapon would not be used in case of conventional threat. Nuclear deterrence is still on. 

Talk: Tadeusz Wróbel, Łukasz Zalesiński

autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz

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Ustawa o obronie ojczyzny – pytania i odpowiedzi
Sojusznicy ćwiczą w Drawsku
Obradował Komitet Wojskowy Unii Europejskiej
Dzień zwycięstwa. Na wolność Polska musiała czekać
„Wakacje z wojskiem”, czyli plan na lato
Wyszkolenie sprawdzą w boju
Święto Oddziału Specjalnego ŻW
Po przeprawie ruszyli do walki
Flota Bayraktarów w komplecie
Pływacy i maratończycy na medal
Układ nerwowy Mieczników
Pierwsi na oceanie
Polscy żołnierze stacjonujący w Libanie są bezpieczni
Ustawa o obronie ojczyzny – pytania i odpowiedzi
Ustawa o obronie ojczyzny – pytania i odpowiedzi
Systemy obrony powietrznej dla Ukrainy
Bohater odtrącony
Premier odwiedził WZZ Podlasie
Mięśnie czy głowa, czyli jak przejść selekcję
Pamiętamy o bohaterach z Piedimonte
Wielki triumf 2 Korpusu Polskiego
Polsko-australijskie rozmowy o bezpieczeństwie
Śladami ojca
Polska wiktoria na Monte Cassino
„Ta ziemia do Polski należy…”
Wojskowe Oscary przyznane!
Na straży nieba
Zanieśmy lepszą Polskę następnym pokoleniom
Rajd ku czci saperów
Dwa srebrne medale kajakarzy CWZS-u
Żołnierze ewakuują Polaków rannych w Gruzji
Wojna w świętym mieście, epilog
Gry wojenne w szkoleniu
Zmiany w dodatkach stażowych
„Pierwsza Drużyna” na start
I zdobyliśmy!
Krwawa noc pośród puszczy
„Przekazał narodowi dziedzictwo myśli o honor i potęgę państwa dbałej”
Jak zwiększyć bezpieczeństwo cywilów?
Camp Miron. Amerykańscy specjalsi w Polsce
MON przedstawiło w Senacie plany rozwoju sił zbrojnych
Ustawa o obronie ojczyzny – pytania i odpowiedzi
Wioślarze i triatlonistka na podium
Serwis K9 w Polsce
Prezydent chce wzmocnienia odporności państwa
Więcej hełmów dla żołnierzy
Mobilne dowodzenie
Memoriał gen. Andersa coraz bliżej
MON o bezpieczeństwie szkoleń na poligonach
Ameryka daje wsparcie
Abramsy w pętli
Szef MON-u: nie można oswajać się z wojną

Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej Wojsko Polskie Sztab Generalny Wojska Polskiego Dowództwo Generalne Rodzajów Sił Zbrojnych Dowództwo Operacyjne Rodzajów Sił Zbrojnych Wojska Obrony
Terytorialnej
Żandarmeria Wojskowa Dowództwo Garnizonu Warszawa Inspektorat Wsparcia SZ Wielonarodowy Korpus
Północno-
Wschodni
Wielonarodowa
Dywizja
Północny-
Wschód
Centrum
Szkolenia Sił Połączonych
NATO (JFTC)
Agencja Uzbrojenia

Wojskowy Instytut Wydawniczy (C) 2015
wykonanie i hosting AIKELO