10 May 2022
Emily Angwin, Al Jazeera: Let’s bring in Mark Brzezinski, who’s the U.S. Ambassador to Poland. He joins us live from Warsaw. Thanks for being on the program, Mr. Ambassador. Firstly, Poland has been instrumental in challenging Russian aggression. Let’s first look at the situation militarily. What’s the latest on the cooperation between Washington and Warsaw when it comes to providing weapons and troops for this fight?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, the situation Emily is one of the absolute synchronicity. That we stand shoulder to shoulder with Poland to supply and support Ukrainian fighters, fighting for their freedom, fighting for their country’s independence. The United States now has 12,500 U.S. soldiers in Poland, all on Polish bases, all here at the ready to defend every square inch of NATO territory, which includes Poland.
Emily Angwin, Al Jazeera: Will that be increased at all though in the foreseeable future?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Our force posture is absolutely adequate for any and every contingency that we could face with regard to Putin and Russia. And, the fight right now is between the Ukrainian people and the Russian military that has attacked it. Our goal is to help the Ukrainian people win that fight. And thankfully, I think for all involved, that conflict has not spread into a regional war, nor should it.
Emily Angwin, Al Jazeera: Speaking of a potential regional war, we’ve seen Russia get pretty close to the Polish border. What would NATO’s response be if Russia tried to attack Poland or any of its neighbors? How real is that threat?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Emily, the President has spoken on — President Biden has spoken on Polish soil and said that the U.S. will defend every square inch of NATO territory. Putin knows what that means. So, I feel we have fought through and prepared for every possible contingency to make sure that Poland and all of NATO is secure. And at this point, we have a very peaceful context, and we hope that it remains that way.
Emily Angwin, Al Jazeera: Is there still a chance of a diplomatic solution to end this war? And, what role does Warsaw play in that?
Ambassador Brzezinski: So Emily, thank you also for that question. The Biden administration is, of course, hoping that diplomacy is given a chance by Russia. At this point, none of the diplomatic off ramps have been used by the Russians, despite the fact that Putin’s actions have cut off his people and his country from the rest of the world. Is that some kind of victory or some kind of positive result for the people of Russia? It’s a terrible result. And we hope that the Russians take any diplomatic offering that we can offer them, and we are we are doing exactly that, offering diplomatic off ramps as a solution. We hope they take them.
Emily Angwin, Al Jazeera: Mr. Ambassador, Poland has seen such an enormous influx of people — we’re talking millions of refugees now in the country. Is it reaching its limit on what it can handle and does the U.S. and international community need to provide additional assistance?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Thanks, Emily. Poland has really acted like a humanitarian superpower when it comes to this. Poland in the last 30 days has taken in 3 million refugees, and as a national policy, placed every one of those refugees into a Polish home or apartment. Never before in the history of the world, has a country opened its doors to refugees with a national policy to place them into people’s homes. And of course, you know, every act of generosity has limits. Poland continues to receive refugees, continues to extend generosity, but I think it’s important for the West to understand that this is not just a Polish problem. This is an international problem. And it’s important for others to share in and join in with this challenge. Last week, the governments of Sweden and Poland co-hosted a donor’s conference here in Warsaw to begin to plan for paying for the repair and damage that has occurred in Ukraine. Six billion dollars was raised. That’s sounds like a big number, but in terms of the damage done to Ukraine, it’s actually a tiny number. It will be important for others to share in and join in paying for these costs, including the costs of maintaining and caring for the refugees.
Emily Angwin, Al Jazeera: And while caring for the refugees, Russia has cut off energy to Poland. What impact is that having on Polish people?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, the Polish government has been planning to wean itself off of, basically, two energy addictions, coal and Russian source energy, for quite a while. And whether it’s LNG, whether it’s alternative sources of energy, the Poles have been very much developing diversification in terms of energy sources. And so when the Russians did that the impact was not actually that bad. But, energy prices were affected. It’s important for further steps to be taken by the Poles and those who want to work with the Poles towards further energy diversification.
Emily Angwin, Al Jazeera: Well, we appreciate your insights. during a very busy time. Mark Brzezinski, the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, coming to us from Warsaw. Thank you for your time on this Newshour.
Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you, Emily.