A declassified memo on the missile-defense shield in Poland
Michał Rachoń on TVP Info’s #Jedziemy program presented a fragment of a declassified memo from the Polish military services of the Polish embassy in Moscow. Polish military diplomats wrote in that memo that the Russians expected the Polish government to prolong and obstruct negotiations with the U.S. on a critical issue for Poland’s security – the missile defense shield.
This memo written by the Polish military attache in 2008 and sent from the Polish Embassy in Moscow to the Polish Ministry of Defense by military diplomats was declassified in April 2022. In this note, we read about the Russian perspective on what was happening in Poland at the time.
This document was attached to the recently published final report of the commission for the investigation of the tragic Smolensk catastrophe.
“It is a document that shows the way of thinking of the Polish military services, describing the views of Russians on Polish politics,” comments Michał Rachoń.
The memo deals with military issues related to negotiations fundamental to Polish national security – the agreement negotiated with the United States on the missile defense shield for Poland and the first permanent U.S. military base in the country. “To achieve a political reset with the Russian Federation, the Russians expected the Polish government to prolong and obstruct negotiations with the U.S. on this issue,” the journalist notes.
Polish diplomats’ note from Moscow
The memo reads: “Moscow demands either to give up building the system on Polish territory (which is completely unrealistic) or to ensure continuous control of the station by the Russians. Understandably, the Russian government hoped that the talks between Warsaw and Washington would be broken off or dragged on due to the more intransigent stance of Donald Tusk’s government on this issue. Moreover, the Polish approach to this issue is fundamentally different from the Russian one.”
What were the decisions of Donald Tusk’s government on this issue?
Negotiations on the missile defense shield construction during George Bush’s presidency resulted in an offer presented to Poland when Tusk was prime minister. This offer was rejected in July 2008,” said Rachoń.
“The installation of the missile defense shield in Poland increases primarily the security of the United States. It is also important for us and the whole world. Still, the fact that this installation would be built in Poland increases the risk and threat to Poland.” This is the statement made by Donald Tusk in July 2008, when negotiations between Poland and the USA were taking place.
An agreement was reached in August. Less than four months later Witold Waszczykowski, then deputy head of the National Security Office (BBN), accused the government of inaction in this matter.
“We should ratify the agreement signed in August and allow the Americans to start building. And so far, nothing is happening,” assessed Waszczykowski, who was previously involved in negotiations with the Americans.
The agreement negotiated with the George Bush administration was to be carried through by the Barack Obama cabinet. “We have confirmation – a few days ago, Gen. Henry Obering, the head of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Agency of the outgoing (George Bush) team, also confirmed that everything is being done according to plan. He said that the Democrats, although not in power in recent years, were prevailing in Congress, allocating money for the missile shield. He said this on behalf of Congress,” noted Waszczykowski.
The 2008 agreement provided for the placement of a base with ten long-range interceptor missiles in Poland. According to the assumptions of the George W. Bush administration, the system’s radar installation was to be placed in the Czech Republic. On September 17, 2009, Obama announced a change of plans on the missile-defense shield in Poland.
The agreement with the Americans was finally ratified in early March 2011, but the assumptions by then were different.