30 June 2022
Karol Kostrzewa, PAP: In Madrid, President Biden said that your troops would be permanent in Poland. Can we expect more troops in Poland. If so when and how many?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Sure. And so let me say that I’m not going to talk about specific numbers, because the numbers will be adjusted, according to the threat. And there is an incredibly serious threat. And that’s why the designation of being permanent has been placed on the headquarters, on the new Garrison that will be there in Poznan to support the headquarters, and the supply depot. And so, my suspicion is that the numbers will trend upwards. But I’m not going to get into any specific numbers right now, and let that be the determination ultimately, of the Department of Defense and the White House. Because the threat is continuing, it’s not stopping, or ending.
Karol Kostrzewa, PAP: (How will this change in status to permanent affect cooperation with the Polish military?)
Ambassador Brzezinski: Important question. The reason why we’re doing a permanent headquarters, and a garrison and a supply depot in Poland, is to mesh together command and control. So we don’t have separate and kind of distinct and not communicating commands and control. We want interoperability between our different militaries. This is all about collective defense. This is why we have a military footprint here, not to act alone, but to act in close coordination with the Polish military and with other militaries that are here through the enhanced defence force posture that is here, NATO forces – and you saw the NATO announcements yesterday as well. So it’s to promote interoperability. And the reason for that is this: it’s just look at these numbers, if you’re interested in these numbers: Russian soldiers – several hundred thousand. When you combine the forces of NATO – it’s two million. It’s just an absolute massive advantage when we enhance collective defense. That’s the role.
Karol Kostrzewa, PAP: According to the NATO summit Finland and Sweden will join as well. We hope soon. What kind of response can we expect from the Russians? What will be the steps (the Russians take) ?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, you know that Sweden and Finland, and their application now being formally approved to join NATO is extremely close to my heart. Because I used to be US ambassador in Stockholm or in Sweden for four years. And I know Sweden well. I can tell you what a major change it is for Sweden to leave neutrality and to join NATO. And what a contributor it will be in that Baltic area. How it will mesh together with Poland, with the other Central European countries, as will Finland. I think it is a incredible step. And what does it mean to Russia? Well think about this. One of the job descriptions of the station chief in charge of the KGB headquarters in St. Petersburg is to keep the Nordics out of NATO. That’s what Putin was. He was the station chief in charge of the KGB headquarters in St. Petersburg. So that is one of numerous strategic setbacks that Putin has faced. Do you think that Putin attacked Ukraine so that he could have a permanent US force presence in Poland? No. Do you think he attacked Ukraine to get Sweden and Finland into NATO? No. Do you think that he attacked Ukraine to see the forces adjusted and bolstered across Europe, in Spain, in England, in Germany, in Romania, in the Baltics, like we’ve seen? No, there is strategically zero gain for Russia because of what Putin has done. Now, the Russians can’t say that because they fear him. But Putin ultimately needs to ask: what kind of leader is he that everyone fears him? No one respects him. No one thinks that his leadership is productive.
Karol Kostrzewa, PAP: Do you think that Finland and Sweden as part of NATO will help Europe to end this war?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Absolutely, because again, it is all about collective defense. It is all about pooling our resources. America alone, Poland alone, is not as strong as together with each other and with others. That’s the essence of collective defense. That is ultimately what is being tested by the Ukraine crisis: whether through collective defense we can a) prevent the expansion of the war and b) ultimately support the Ukrainian fighters to kick out the Russians from Ukraine. That is what is being tested. And we are so much better positioned when we have collective defense than we when we stand alone.
Karol Kostrzewa, PAP: (You mentioned that support for Ukraine is incredibly important. …).
Ambassador Brzezinski: Look, today we’re celebrating Independence Day. And there is nothing more important in terms of a national value than independence, than sovereignty, than the ability for a country to be free. That’s what we’re celebrating here at the Chief of Mission Residence. Every business that has participated in this has instead of giving to the party has given to the cause in Ukraine. You’ve seen the list of companies that are on these big charts around here. They’re incredible. What a statement. All these companies joining in to help Ukraine to push back Russia. That’s what’s being celebrated. That’s why this to me, is a very special Independence Day.