Ambassador Mark Brzezinski’s Interview with MSNBC

23 February 2023

Ambassador Brzezinski: (recording from 2/23 remarks at Royal Castle Gardens.) Poland and America have been linked for over two centuries in the quest for freedom. That is why Poles have come to America and why Americans have gone to Poland for over 200 years, for over 200 years. There is a real history of sacrifice between our two nations, sacrifice for the cause of American freedom and sacrifice for the cause of Polish freedom. And for the first time in history, today, Americans and Poles share the same freedom after two centuries of struggle. And now our collective agenda is being renewed as both of our countries support Ukraine.

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC: Ambassador Mark Brzezinski joins us now. Mark, very good to see you. Talk about how important the President’s trip was for the people of Poland, for the NATO alliance, and for all those interested in promoting freedom across Europe and the globe.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you so much for having me. In terms of its importance for the people of Poland, I will simply quote what Polish leaders are saying to the Polish people today. They’re saying President Biden “dba o was i dba o wasze bezpieczenstwo.” President Biden, who cares about you in Poland and he cares about your security. What a reinforcement of the President’s message that leaders around Poland are giving to their people and to the NATO alliance. The message was collective defense works. We’ve developed in 2022 and 2023 – who would have thought that we’ve developed a unity of purpose, and we’ve developed a shared definition of the challenge. Despite our differing self interest, we have a shared definition of the challenge. That was the importance of President Biden’s risky and brave trip to Kyiv and his visit to Poland.

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC: You know, it’s very interesting. When I was over visiting you we had a roundtable with Polish leaders from the government, from the media, elsewhere. It’s remarkable. The change in relations between Poland and the United States which got a bit frayed over the past several years and what those relations were when you first became ambassador, and what those relations now in large part because of the war. Can you explain that? Because there is certainly an understanding. I spoke to the Secretary of Defense this week, the Secretary of State, Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor, the Chairman, the Joint Chiefs. Every one of them talk about the central role that Poland plays into the promotion of freedom moving forward.

Ambassador Brzezinski: And the central role of Poland is the right way of putting it. Please remember that 80% of all the supplies coming into Ukraine to support the Ukrainian people to help them defend themselves, 80% of all supplies come through Poland. And on the flip side, Poland is hosting millions of refugees. Each one of them in someone’s house or home here in Poland. And so it’s an incredible story. I have to say that the role Poland is playing right now is absolutely critical to this alliance, and its projection of collective defense to work. And I think that the President has been magnificent in cobbling together an alliance of more than 50 countries to get this done.

Willie Geist, MSNBC: Ambassador, good morning. It’s good to see you again. Obviously the threat from Russia remains one year in. It’s not gone the way Vladimir Putin expected it would. But still there’s widespread suffering, as you know well, in Ukraine. Can you speak to where the Bucharest nine, those eastern flank European countries, where they are on the future of this war? Where do you believe it’s headed and how long you’re prepared to to hang in for this fight?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Sure. Well, the message from the alliance and from President Biden is that we will defend every square inch of NATO territory and that includes each one of the countries of the Bucharest nine. Here in Poland, we have over 10,000 US troops currently deployed all across Poland, all on Polish bases, standing shoulder to shoulder with Polish soldiers. So I can report to you that in Poland, the message is clear that the country is safe. that the country is secure. And that’s the case with all the Bucharest Nine. At the same time, for this part of the work world, really, this moment is 1939. This moment here in Central Europe, is akin to the Nazi invasion. of Poland in central europe in 1939. Except this time, in 2022 and 2023, the Central Europeans can do something about it. So they’re taking in refugees; they are providing supplies to Ukraine so the Ukrainians can defend themselves, and it’s working. And President Biden’s message, his role in this part of the world, could not be more embraced, or more popular. I think that was seen in Old Town in Warsaw two nights ago, when we expected a crowd of about 10,000 people. And we had almost 35,000 people there listening on a cold February night in Warsaw, Poland, to our president reassure them. It says a lot about America’s leadership in the world today.

Mike Barnicle, MSNBC: Mr. Ambassador, if you could draw on that last remark and pull it out a bit on the President’s personality and the impact it had on his meetings with the Alliance, his meetings with the Bucharest Nine. I noted that Secretary (General) Stoltenberg referred to him as “Joe” in conversation before the before the alliance, and President Biden’s personality, its impact on that stage on the country that you represent now, in Poland. Tell us about it.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thanks, Mike. Well, I think that President Biden’s personality is a power unto itself. And here’s what I mean: In the Polish American community, President Biden is known warmly and colloquially as President Bidenski. The Polish American community knows that President Biden comes from a state, Delaware, with a strong Polish American community, and he was one of the spearheads to enlarge NATO to include Poland. And so NATO expansion is what allowed the removal of the dividing lines between East and West in Europe, to the removal of the dividing lines and a coherent sense of security to emerge in Central and Eastern Europe. And his role in that is very well known. I would say also here in Central Europe, his public embrace of the refugees, his public embrace of people is magnificent. I have to share this story. We had a meet and greet at the US Embassy yesterday for President Biden to meet the hundreds of Americans who work with the American Embassy here, and President Biden spontaneously, from the warmth of his heart invited all the children to join him on the stage as he spoke to the American Embassy community. So I have this memory in my mind of President Biden onstage with about 30 children, a moment that they will remember for the rest of their lives. That’s a metaphor of the love, the warmth, and most importantly, in this part of the world, the empathy that President Biden projects. When Joe Scarborough came here at the end of January, to take part in the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz, it was evident from that visit and that day how empathy has to be a word, that one thinks of when one thinks of the history in this part of the world. This part of the world has endured a lot of suffering, the Holocaust, the world’s worst time in history, the Soviet occupation, and now the crisis in Ukraine. No one does empathy, no one has genuinely empathy, like President Biden. And it is in tune with the challenges of this moment here in Central Europe.

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC: It is something that you can see immediately stepping off the plane inWarsaw, something you saw across Poland, of course, something you saw at Auschwitz – that history hangs heavily over the Polish people. They are so grateful that the United States is there, so grateful for President Biden. It’s why he has an 82% approval rating right now in Poland, which is remarkable in and of itself, for many of the reasons, Mark, that you just brought up. US ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We greatly appreciate it.