Ambassador Mark Brzezinski’s Interview with Do Rzeczy

8 May 2022

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: And just in time for Poland to become a serious state and not to live constantly in a limbo between heaven and hell, heaven is when America loves us, and Hell is when you can shout you have betrayed us. You have sold us out again. Your father told me right in 2009. Do you think that Poland has finally grown up?

Ambassador Brzezinski: I can tell you, Jacek, that American Polish relations have never been closer, have never been stronger, and have never been more meshed together than they are at this moment. And in part that is due to, and not despite of, this crisis, because America and Poland have always fought for each other’s freedom. Americans have fought for Polish freedom over time. And this goes back to … you know, I attended a middle school in Northern Virginia, named after James Fenimore Cooper. James Fenimore Cooper was one of the great American authors, and he wrote about the November 1830 uprising, to support Poles fighting for their independence. And of course, Ignacy Paderewski was the great Pole who worked with the Americans to restore Poland’s independence. So Americans and Poles have fought for each other’s freedom over the centuries. And now, more than ever before, we are standing with each other, because, of course, Poland is a sovereign state. Of course, Poland is a very special friend of America. And this crisis is not just a Polish crisis. It’s an international crisis, and we are joining you in that way. So our relationship is mature, is developed. I can report to you that we are aligning with the Polish government in ways that secure the Polish people and the people of this region. We very much appreciate the leadership that the Polish government is showing at this time when it comes to this crisis. And we’re collaborating effectively to make sure that Poland is “bezpieczna” safe, and “zabezpieczona” secure.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: When you’re talking about Poland’s different history and our history, I want to ask the last family question: your grandfather, Tadeusz Brzezinski, survived the Second World War because a year before the war broke out he was sent to Canada, and your father is remembered in Poland as a talented strategist and someone who helped a lot to end and to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Do you hope to be the Brzezinski who saved Poland from Russia?

Ambassador Brzezinski: You know, the only thing I am doing right now is admiring the people of Poland for what they are doing for this refugee crisis. I am a participant. I am a supporter. I am a friend of Poland. And that is something that my grandfather and my father were as well; they were a friend of Poland. You know, it’s important Jacek to know that, in 1977, when President Carter was President Elect Carter, and my father was the brand new National Security Adviser, one of the very first countries in the world – and there are many countries in the world – that President Elect Carter and Rosalynn Carter and my father visited was Poland. Poland was very much a North Star for my father. And what I am is also a friend of Poland. And I believe in this relationship. This relationship is worth the great investment that it receives. The Polish people are so talented and have even such greater potential than we see now. And I don’t want that crisis to affect that. And we are all standing in admiration of the Polish people who have gone to the border to pick up refugees and put them in homes and apartments in this country. What I’ve been telling as many people as will listen is that I hope that this year when the Time Magazine Person of the Year is selected, there is a split screen on the cover of Time Magazine One half is of the Ukrainian fighters and the fighter in chief, President Zelenskyy. And then on the other half, is a picture of a Polish young person driving at 11:15 at night, using their cell phone to find this particular family to bring them to someplace in Poland. So they have a place to go. It’s an example of tremendous generosity that all of us in America, as my president has said, as my Vice President said, as the Speaker of the House said earlier this week to President Duda: we say thank you, thank you to the Polish people for what you’re doing. And in many ways also, Jacek, thank you for for providing the world an example of humanity. Poland is an example of humanity.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: You said that you work hard to make sure that Poland is safe. And President Biden has repeatedly said that NATO was ready to defend every inch of NATO territory. I wonder how big is the risk of Russia attacking Poland or the Baltic States this year?

Ambassador Brzezinski: I have no idea what is in Putin’s head. And what he will do next. He has committed grave atrocities. In his name, Russian soldiers have done terrible things. We are just understanding the full depth of the harm and the hurt he and his people have brought Ukraine. I don’t know what he will do next. I will tell you categorically that President Biden speaks with definity and with a degree of absoluteness when he says that the United States will defend every square inch of NATO territory, which means Poland. And the fact that he said that in Poland; the fact that the Vice President said that in Poland; the fact that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that in Poland should tell you something.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: We can feel safe.

Ambassador Brzezinski: “Polska jest bezpieczna i Polska jest zabezpieczone” – and that’s not from me. That’s from the President of the United States. And we can draw all the inferences we should draw there. Putin understands what an attack on NATO would have as its consequences.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: The Armed Forces of Belarus just began unexpected drills today. And the US and the western sources say that on May Ninth Putin could officially declare war on Ukraine. How could this change the security situation in Europe?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, we don’t know what Putin will do next, but we are ready for every contingency. And we have spoken clearly about what we will do. We will defend every square inch of NATO territory, including Poland. And these are not idle words. We have 12,500 troops in this country now. All on Polish bases spread out all across the country. That is a big number of troops when you consider the overall US force footprint in Europe. That’s more than 10% of the US force footprint in Europe, and we have the equipment to serve as the concomitant force projection that we have in this country. We have F35s. We have the Aegis system to provide a defense context that’s never before been placed in this country. We have Patriot systems to protect key focal points. So we are prepared. But we cannot know what Putin will do next. Jacek, it’s very important to understand that the US military does not react in a kind of knee-jerk, spontaneous fashion. Our movements are based on an extremely careful assessment of what the risks and the security concerns are. And we have with exacting precision placed people and equipment exactly where they need to be to make sure this country and all of NATO is secure. This is not based on some knee-jerk reaction. This is based on tremendous and careful assessment of what the other side may do.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin both talked a lot about World War Three. Just to understand how dangerous the situation is, can we talk about the Third World War right now, or is it more like a Cuban Missile Crisis?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well remember, it is Russia, and the group around Putin that has invoked World War Three, not us. For that matter, it has been the group around Putin that has used the word “nuclear.” You don’t do that in an idle, random fashion. Anytime someone uses the word “nuclear”, as General Milley has made clear, one has to take extremely seriously the invocation of that word. And as our president has said: you do not idly invoke the word “nuclear.” We certainly have not done so, and the fact that the other side has speaks volumes, in terms of what they are about. And I think that that’s pretty sad. No one wants that.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: Are we prepared for that? Are we prepared if Russia uses a tactical nuclear weapon in Poland, for example?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Jacek, Poland, which is a member of NATO, NATO, and the US are prepared for every contingency to ensure that every square inch of NATO is secure.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: I wanted to ask you about nuclear sharing agreement. Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski announced a few weeks ago that he would like Poland to have nuclear arms on our territory. Do you think it’s real and that Americans can consider moving part of the European nuclear arsenal to Poland in the nearest future?

Ambassador Brzezinski: I haven’t heard anything about that. I will say that, as we engage with the Poles, in terms of the collective defense, which this is all about, that the Poles have been partners and collaborators of choice. They have been so effectively capable and have defined the word “interoperability”, in terms of the meshing together of our various military assets, with the collective goal of making sure that the people of this wonderful country are safe, and can go about their business. And what I love to see is that people are going about their business. When I get around Poland, when I see that people are in the schools, in the restaurants, going to work, and on the streets, and that there isn’t the kind of anxiety and uncertainty that might accompany the situation, I see that our shared commitment to collective defense is working. Because that is its intended aim, to make sure that people are not anxious, to make sure they are not uncertain, despite this crisis. In fact, I would say that one of the ways we are helping the Polish people demonstrate their great generosity and humanity as they take in all the refugees into their homes and apartments, is that our participation in that, importantly, has been in part, that we provide a security so that people are not anxious, so that people are not uncertain, and so that they feel comfortable doing that. And I’m proud to say that as an American, that when I go back to America, when I speak on American media, I say that’s been our part. And we’ve provided a security context and a sense of collective defense that gives the Poles the freedom from worry to be able to do that. And so it’s it’s working as it should, despite the tragedy of this crisis.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: Okay, so I have to ask you about Redzikowo. When will the base in Redzikowo start operating and will this base be able to help to defend Poland somehow?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, Redzikowo and Slupsk are part of the enhanced partnership defense program that we are executing with the Poles to put in place the AEGIS defense system, which protects this part of the world from attacks from outside of the European area, and it is close to completion. We are absolutely proud of the technology sharing. And the defense cooperation that it exemplifies. This is one of our most sophisticated defense security systems that we could place anywhere in the world. We’ve chosen to place it in Poland, with the Poles, because we trust them, we believe in them. They are a partner of choice. And we understand the anxiety and uncertainty they feel. And we want to be with them in this. So make no mistake, this is our best in class technology. I personally have engaged with the engineers and the defense officials who are directly responsible for the implementation of this system. I am completely confident in terms of the security context it will provide, and we’re getting close to being done.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: The Secretary of Defense said that America wants to weaken Russia so it cannot attack any countries anymore. What is the goal? Or what will America consider victory in this conflict?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, to be clear, the Secretary of Defense conveyed that we don’t want Russia to be able to do this again. And that’s important, because what they’ve done is horrific. This is 2022 remember, and the words “never again” should mean something – in terms of genocide, in terms of human rights violations. And the more we learn, the more horrified we are. And we’ve just begun the learning of what’s happened. You have to remember, we’re 14 weeks into this crisis – and this is what we know. Think about what we will know, a year from now. And the terrible things that have happened, that’s not acceptable. So that was the intention of Secretary Austin: we don’t want Russia to be able to do this again. And that’s why we are postured the way we are in this country. That is why we are supporting the Ukrainian fighters. And the ultimate definition of our goal is for the Ukrainians to be victorious. And for the Ukrainians to throw the Russian invaders, the Russian attackers, out of Ukraine, and we will stand with them until that is done for, however long this lasts.

Jacek Przybylski, Do Rzeczy: Thank you so much.