Russia has no presence on Poland’s eastern border with Belarus but inviting in the Americans may bring it there
Poland has been asking for the US to set up a permanent military base on its soil. It has even offered Washington up to $2 billion to set it up. That has not gone unnoticed in neighboring Belarus which was at one point named an “Outpost of Tyranny” by George W. Bush, and has been a target of US and EU sanctions which also fund its pro-opposition NGOs.
On a visit in Brussels the Belarusian Foreign Minister told reporters the US setting up a military base in neighboring Poland would prompt Minsk to reconsider its stance on permanent Russian military presence in Belarus:
Vladimir Makei, in Brussels to press a case for expanded cooperation with the European Union, told reporters that Minsk wanted to reduce tensions in the region and maintain good relations with the West and with its former rulers in Moscow. It felt a U.S. base in Poland would increase regional “mistrust”.
Asked if Polish proposals to host a U.S. base amid fears of Russian aggression could prompt Belarus to revise its rejection of any Russian base, Makei said: “I think there will be some reaction to this intention to deploy a new military air base.
“Nothing is impossible … As of today … we are not going to deploy new foreign military bases on the territory of Belarus because we would like to contribute to security in our region and we don’t want to be a troublemaker.
“So we are not going to deploy right now new military bases. But looking to the future we should take into account the future steps which will be taken by our neighbors.”
In other words Belarus has a symmetrical deal for the Poles: you don’t invite in the Americans who threaten us, and we won’t invite in the Russians who will protect us, but whom you think threaten you.
Ironically, Poland says it needs the US base to protect it from Russia, but excluding in the small Russian exclave of Kaliningrad which borders a stretch of northern Poland, there is no Russian military presence for hundreds and hundreds of miles beyond Poland. Ironically it is exactly inviting in the Americans which may bring the Russians to Poland’s eastern border with Belarus.