Ambassador Mark Brzezinski’s Interview with Polsat

6 February 2023

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: Ambassador Brzezinski, thank you for your time, sir. You must be very busy these days working on the President’s visit to Poland.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Jan, “Witamy serdecznie,”, I’m so glad you’re here at the Chief of Mission residence here in Warsaw, the American people’s house in Poland. I’m busy, and every one of my 600 colleagues at the US Embassy here in Warsaw is very busy. Because the engagement between America and Poland right now is so broad and deep. We have so many different dimensions of this relationship. And it’s an incredible time. It’s an incredible time to be President Biden’s personal representative to Poland. And I’m so grateful, truly grateful for this opportunity.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: And should we expect President Biden in Poland before the end of February, do you think?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Jan, I have nothing to announce. That’s up to the White House to announce. I will say this. I’d love it if he came to Poland. There’s so much to see here. This country is resilient in the face of war next door. The Polish people are stepping up in ways much larger than themselves to help their neighbor. How many visitors have I had since February 24, tells the story in terms of America’s interest in Poland now. Since the outbreak of the war on February 24, we have welcomed here to Poland: President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, three times Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin three times, the Secretary of Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Advisor, and more than one fifth of the US Congress. More than 120, I repeat 120, members of Congress have come to Poland. Why? Why have they come to Poland in less than one year? Why this historic number of visits? To bear witness. To bear witness to the great steps the Polish people are taking to support their neighbor? It’s an incredible time. And so I would love it, if President Biden came to Poland.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: The President himself said he is going to visit Poland. Whenever it happens, what would be the message the President would bring to Polish people?

Ambassador Brzezinski: That would be up to the President, and I would also be keenly interested in specifically what he would want to convey. But President Biden does a number of things so well. President Biden has empathy. He has empathy for people who are suffering. He has empathy for people who are in difficult and tragic circumstances. And he will show empathy to the people of Ukraine, whenever he talks about the Ukrainian crisis. And when he talks about Poland, he’ll talk about a special friendship that is closer than it’s ever been. That’s regardless as to whenever he comes to Poland. The relationship is more meshed together than any time in history, because never before have we been doing as much together.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: Are you aware, Mr. Ambassador, of any plans for Mr. Biden to meet President Zelenskyy on Polish soil?

Ambassador Brzezinski: I have no information on that.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: Every single day, the world witnesses Russian attacks on Ukraine, on civilians. In the last days with S-300 missiles and with a new offensive it is going to get only worse. Why is President Biden against arming Ukraine with fighter jets like the F16?

Ambassador Brzezinski: The video coming out of Ukraine is reminiscent of World War Two is the only thing I can say. The fact is that Putin is perpetrating genocide, war crimes. These things will be chased down, and the perpetrators will be brought to justice ultimately, but in terms of the tactics of this war, we are supporting the people of Ukraine in their defense of their country. It’s come in phases, our support. At the beginning stage of the war, we provided Javelins to the Ukrainian people to defend themselves against the tactics of the Russian military at the time. And then when the bombardments continued and escalated, we provided HIMARs to the Ukrainian people to defend themselves. And now we’re providing tanks in terms of the phases that we are witnessing in Ukraine. So the tactics of our support has occurred in phases, and we will support the Ukrainian people as necessary because they are being attacked, killed, war crimes are being perpetrated. And in the end, we believe firmly that the Ukrainian people will be victorious in this.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat:  So the President’s “no” for F16s doesn’t have to be the final decision.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, you’re asking me a tactical question, and I’ve given you a tactical answer. Our support comes in phases. Initially, we provided Javelins, then we provided HIMARs, and then we provided tanks, and we are responsive to the needs of Ukrainian people who are being attacked from abroad.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: Are you still convinced the US will continue to arm Ukraine? I’m asking because according to the latest Pew Research Center poll, 26% of Americans say the US is providing too much support to Ukraine. That’s six points more than in September, and 19%, more than at the start of the war. Former President Trump criticized sending tanks and more and more Republicans would like to limit support and Republicans do control part of Congress.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, I also have hosted many Republican elected members of Congress here in Poland, and the support for Ukraine was absolutely universal, and deeply felt. So therefore, the support coming out of Washington for what I see happening in Ukraine, and for what is happening here is bipartisan, which is wonderful to see at this particular moment. From my perspective, Jan, the support of Ukraine, and for countries supporting Ukraine, like Poland, the support is a political imperative. There is broad understanding in America and beyond that what happens in this crisis is literally the essence of the collision between authoritarianism and democracy. Which one of those sides wins, will have repercussions for decades. That is what we understand is at stake, and why our commitment to the people of Ukraine is so deep seated, and our support for Poland is based on fundamental convictions of a shared understanding of democracy and collective defense. What you see in Poland is exhibit A, that collective defense works. We have thousands of American troops, thousands of American soldiers in Poland today. When I was here on a Fulbright scholarship – I lived in Poland 30 years ago – and when I was here 30 years ago, Poland was not a member of NATO at the time. There is much more confidence and a sense of certainty now, in Poland, through its NATO membership, that Poland will be protected. Poland will be safe and Poland will be secure

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: When you started your mission to Poland almost exactly a year ago, sir, the relations between our countries were in a completely different position, a different place. How do you see the post war reality? Poland lies between East and West. After the war, that’s going to be Ukraine’s place.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Jan, the evidence that the relationship is disciplined, mutually respectful, and mutually supportive, is just seen in how the American government and the Polish government handled the Przewodow incident in November. Both sides worked together to understand what happened, to communicate to our respective peoples and to the world what happened, and to work together in our alliance structure, NATO, to come up with the best way forward. It was absolutely disciplined. The White House, the Biden administration, was so appreciative of how President Duda and Prime Minister Morawiecki and the Polish government handled that incident. It was exhibit A on how two close meshed together allies should handle an uncertain moment – and it was handled perfectly. We have great confidence in our ability to work together, and I’m so pleased about it. Because, of course people with principle can disagree on things, but we agree on the fundamentals, on security, on values. This is where we find ourselves right now, and it’s an important moment in the American Polish relationship.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: At the end, sir, how does this war end and is a peace agreement with Putin possible in your opinion? Or does he just have to be defeated?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Jan, responsible leadership requires us to realize that while we hope for peace today, this probably will be long and drawn out. That is what we are preparing for with the Ukrainian people and with the Polish government. And while that’s a tough thing to say, I have great confidence one year into my ambassadorship that as long as this takes, this relationship will provide unbelievable support for the Ukrainian people who will ultimately be victorious in this fight against the Russian invaders.

Jan Mikruta, Polsat: Ambassador Mark Brzezinski, thank you, sir.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you, Jan for coming here.