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Russia Threatens Poland with Military Strike

Those arguing that Russia’s invasion of Georgia was a one-off and that Russia was unlikely to flex their muscles further into their near abroad may have to rethink that position:

In this Aug. 13, 2008 file photo, Russia\'s deputy chief of General Staff Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn addresses the media in Moscow. Nogovitsyn said Friday, Aug. 15, 2008 that Poland\'s agreement to accept a U.S. missile defense battery exposes the country to attack, pointing out that Russian military doctrine permits the use of nuclear weapons in such a situation, the Interfax news agency reported. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File)A top Russian general said Friday that Poland’s agreement to accept a U.S. missile interceptor base exposes the ex-communist nation to attack, possibly by nuclear weapons, the Interfax news agency reported. The statement by Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn is the strongest threat that Russia has issued against the plans to put missile defense elements in former Soviet satellite nations.

Poland and the United States on Thursday signed a deal for Poland to accept a missile interceptor base as part of a system the United States says is aimed at blocking attacks by rogue nations. Moscow, however, feels it is aimed at Russia’s missile force.

“Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent,” Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff, was quoted as saying. He added, in clear reference to the agreement, that Russia’s military doctrine sanctions the use of nuclear weapons “against the allies of countries having nuclear weapons if they in some way help them.” Nogovitsyn that would include elements of strategic deterrence systems, he said, according to Interfax.

Meanwhile, Georgia has been bullied into signing a cease-fire agreement.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left, and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili seen at a news conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, Friday, Aug. 15, 2008. Georgia\'s president signed an cease-fire deal Friday with Russia meant to end fighting that has battered his country, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Russian troops should pull out of Georgia \'now.\' (AP Photo/Georgy Abdaladze)A reluctant Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said Friday he signed a cease-fire agreement with Russia and declared in the presence of the chief U.S. diplomat that the West had behaved in ways that invited the invasion.

[…]

Near tears at times, Saakashvili said he will “never, ever surrender” in the showdown with much-larger Russia. “You are dealing with a people who despise anything human,” Saakashvili said of invading Russian forces.

Saakashvili said the West sent a disastrous signal to Russia by denying Georgia a door to NATO membership.

Saakashvili, whose leadership is founded on a close alliance with Washington that has always aggravated Moscow, said that Russia had interpreted NATO’s snub of Georgia as capitulation. He spoke hours after President Bush accused Russia of “bullying and intimidation” against Georgia. Bush, delivering a formal statement outside the Oval Office at the White House, said the people there chose freedom and “we will not cast them aside.”

Saakashvili did not appear enthusiastic about the cease-fire pact, but Rice defended it as a good way to return all forces to their prewar positions. She said that the signed pact obligates Russia to withdraw forces from Georgia immediately.

I’ll believe that when I see it.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. James,

    A while back I think you wrote several posts about the US not needing the F-22 and F-35. Do you still have that view given the latest from Russia?

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  2. Ugh says:

    Well, this is getting interesting. There are reports that Russian troops are moving deeper into Georgia, despite the so-called agreement. Wonder if Putin’s set out to just out and out embarass Rice and the Bush administration. Letting Saakashvili sign multiple cease-fires and then disregarding them, despite Rice’s apparent belief that the “signed pact obligates Russia to withdraw forces from Georgia immediately.” Kind of a big middle finger to George W.

    With respect to Poland, was there ever any doubt that if we put anti-missle defenses there they would end up on Russia’s target list? Seems to me that was what we would do.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    A while back I think you wrote several posts about the US not needing the F-22 and F-35. Do you still have that view given the latest from Russia?

    I walked that back two years ago (see: Why We Need the F-22 Raptor) on account of proliferation of top Russian jets to potential adversaries. I’m still not sure that it’s a worthwhile expenditure given the costs and our comparative advantage in training and systems warfare.

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  4. Bootlegger says:

    Those arguing that Russia’s invasion of Georgia was a one-off and that Russia was unlikely to flex their muscles further into their near abroad may have to rethink that position:

    Note that he isn’t saying they will do anything to Poland other than put them on their nuclear target list. Which, as someone pointed out, we probably already knew.

    Russia has had it with NATO and US expansion into its old territories. Their military pride is hurt and if there is one thing Russians seem to value it’s their military. I hate to be so blase, but shouldn’t we have seen this coming? The question now is how far do they intend to go?

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  5. I was referring to this post from November 8, 2007.

    That doesn’t mean, however, that we need to replace them all with ridiculously expensive F-22s. Much cheaper new F-15s would more than fill the need in most cases.

    The F-22 was designed to fight a Cold War mission that no longer exists. Potential adversaries are improving their fleet with Russian-made jets, so we need upgrades. It’s doubtful, though, that we need a fleet of F-22s and F-35s.

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  6. Anderson says:

    In Russia’s history, two kinds of power occupy Poland: Russia, or an enemy of Russia’s.

    Their concern is not anything out of the ordinary.

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  7. Somewhere Ben Stein is saying, “Alex…, Alex…, Alex…”

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  8. John Burgess says:

    This is going to piss off the Poles more than a little. As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised if Poland decided to give full basing rights to the US bilaterally, outside the scope of NATO.

    I also suspect that reminders of a particular piece of Polish history are being brushed off and fed into the Polish political discussion. The statues of Józef Piłsudski, are certainly being shined up.

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  9. Bear Stearn says:

    Russia have been attacked by the west for centuries. Napoleon attacked it unprovoked. England attacked it unprovoked. Hitler attacked it unprovoked. In fact, every western nation which rises to the status of a great power eventually have attacked Russia. And Russia have always fought back and … won. It doesn’t seem to be any different this time around. Weird but true.

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  10. Dave Schuler says:

    I see that Bear Stearn has forgotten about Japan.

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  11. DC Loser says:

    Misha’s performance at his press conference with Condi today was way over the top and very whiny. If only he’d admit he made a very big mistake in poking the bear in the first place.

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  12. Bear Stearn says:

    I see that Bear Stearn has forgotten about Japan.

    No, I haven’t. The Russians have lost many small wars and won even more of them.
    I wasn’t so much making a prediction for the future as I was trying to point the obvious military threat to Russia – coming from the West. This general simply said that in case of a military conflict with NATO, Russia would hit Poland with nukes. There are a lot of military reasons for that and some historical as well – the most powerful armies of their times have attacked Russia with total devastating wars. Russians know what is coming and the response is going to be of a kind.

    As far as winners and losers go, looking at the state of US finance and continuing political and financial corruption… War is won not only with arms!

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  13. Bear Stearn says:
  14. Anderson says:

    and that Russia was unlikely to flex their muscles further

    JJ, I think I missed something here.

    Russia’s neighbor Poland is going to host missiles intended for use vs. Russia …

    … and it’s *Russia* that flexes its muscles by warning Poland that those missiles will be duly targeted?

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  15. PD Shaw says:

    I see that Bear Stearn has forgotten about Japan.

    And the First World War. Which as I recall, the Russians were the first to militirize.

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  16. Phelice says:

    “and it’s *Russia* that flexes its muscles by warning Poland that those missiles will be duly targeted?”

    Yes. The systems can only be used for defense and the stated purpose of them are for defense from Iran. If I’m expected to believe upon face value that Iran is only pursuing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, why can’t the other side assume we’re being true to our stated purpose? Besides, why is Russia so concerned about them? If they’re not planning on launching a nuke at Europe, there’s nothing to fear.

    If Russia wants to get into a military p*ss fight, things will get ugly. But our Ruskie friends won’t come out victorious.

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  17. davod says:

    “And the First World War. Which as I recall, the Russians were the first to militirize.”

    Weren’t the Germans and Austrians already militarized?

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  18. JohnG says:

    Blaming the US for why Russia is suddenly deciding to rebuild its empire does not tell us what we need to do to stop Russia from re-enslaving Eastern Europe. Besides, looking at how Russia’s media campaign went about justifying their current conquest of Georgia, I’m certain that the Russians are counting on Western self-blame to give them the opportunity to extend outwards once again.

    Considering that the missile system in Poland would be mostly ineffective against a full Russian strike, I doubt that Russia truly feels threatened by what we’re doing in Poland. Even if they did, it’s their invasion of Georgia that pushed Poland into agreeing to base the missile system in the first place. Poland has a much more legitimate fear of Russia than Russia does of Poland, and Poland being our staunch ally while Russia is at best neutral and more likely more of an enemy than China ever will be, who cares what the Russians think? Our concern should be about what the Polish think, otherwise why do we have allies in the first place?

    Russian has never given a damn about what other countries think, except for the fear of US nuclear reprisal. If they really want to invade Poland, they’ll wait till they can find an excuse, or eventually they’ll just do it anyway. Instead of worring about whether or not we’re giving the Russians an excuse to invade its former satellites, we should be worrying about how we are going to convince Russia that recreating their empire would be suicidal.

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  19. grampagravy says:

    Why do I have this sneaking suspicion that pushing for missiles in Poland right now is more about influencing American voters than defending against any real threat to Eastern Europe? What better way to get another idiot warmonger elected?

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