Ambassador Mark Brzezinski’s Interview with RMF radio

4 June 2022

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: (In the beautiful Ossolineum Building in Wroclaw, we have the opportunity to talk with the Ambassador of the United States in Warsaw, Mark Brzezinski. Hello.)

Ambassador Brzezinski: (Hello, thank you for the invitation today.  It is wonderful to be in Wroclaw.   Thirty years ago, I lived in Poland, now I am the US Ambassador in Warsaw.  Today we are in Wroclaw.  My father loved Wroclaw.  It’s wonderful to be here.)

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: (It’s very nice to meet here.)  Your Excellency, you frequently mention being here in Poland that the cooperation with the Polish government, with Poland, is excellent, is better than anywhere, anytime. The cooperation after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, what in your opinion, at this very moment after 100 days of the war, is the most important part of this American Polish cooperation?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Grzegorz, that it is a multi disciplinary cooperation. What I mean is this: it is not just military to military; it is democracy to democracy. It is economy to economy. It is people to people. I’m proud to be here in Poland, when America and Poland share the same freedom, fight for the same freedom, and we’re operating on a number of different levels, in a number of different ways, like never before. And so it’s a unique and special time. in the American Polish relationship. We have 10,000 American troops now, all on Polish bases. I love visiting the American troops on Polish bases. Some of them are Polish Americans. Some of them are Ukrainian Americans. They are the heroes. They are the heroes of their grandparents, in terms of what they do now. But what I love most are meeting those American soldiers who have never been outside of the United States. And their first time abroad is in Poland. And I love it especially, when they tell me they love Poland. “Goscinosc” (“Hospitality.”) That’s my favorite word in Polish. That’s what the Poles are showing the American soldiers.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: I would like to start from this military cooperation. You’ve been in Powidz, in the place where the munitions stock will start to be built and the army pre-positions talk is being built at the moment. And of course, the most important question for Polish people is, what the possibility of a permanent base in Poland, in Powidz or anywhere else? Is it really possible that we will have Fort Biden?  Is that on the table in the discussion between America and Poland?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, let’s start with the most important piece of the American Polish security relationship. The most important piece is that the American President, the American commander-in-chief, came to Poland in March and said that America and NATO will defend every inch of NATO territory – and that includes Poland. He said that in Poland, in Rzeszow, close to the Ukrainian border, and in Warsaw. That is a sacrosanct commitment from the US president.  To tactically implement that vision, we now are cooperating tactically between our militaries.  Just for example this week, you mentioned one of my engagements in Powidz with Minister of Defense Błaszczak to take part in the ribbon cutting of  the largest structure built by NATO in 30 years, the huge structure now being built at Powidz that will house military equipment from the US, from NATO, and from Poland, including tanks, including aircraft in this giant, huge structure in Powidz.  The day before, I was in Stuttgart visiting European Command, hearing about 110 new construction projects in Poland to support the American military and NATO military footprint in Poland as part and parcel of our force posture. That is not talking the talk, that is walking the walk when we have 10,000 American troops spread out all across this country. That’s not an accident. That is by design. And I think your listeners will totally understand what I’m saying.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: Poland is fulfilling and exceeding the 2% budget commitment to military.  Now, the Polish government wants to buy many pieces of equipment, and the Polish government wants to buy them quickly. Can Poland expect from United States political and maybe some financial help to get this equipment as quickly as possible? I mean, credits or some ways of giving us this equipment quicker than it would normally be.

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well the US defense industry is finding partners in Poland as we build equipment. Lockheed Martin, for example, produces F 16 parts in Mielec. Pratt and Whitney is making engine components in Rzeszow, including F 35 parts, the most sophisticated aircraft that we have; and Collins makes components for the newest US Air Force trainer, and does engineering work right here in Wroclaw.  We’re looking to do more of that.  It is important that Poland is setting the bar high. That is an example for all in terms of its spending. And let me tell you something – that when the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, came to Poland, I drove around part of Poland with him in his car. And I shared with him that I lived in Poland 30 years ago, that I did a Fulbright here, and that I’ve seen Poland grow.  I’ve seen its economy be successful. But Poland is not a place where money is just laying around.  Six billion dollars for the new Abrams tanks, the Poles have to dig deep in their pockets to get that money. And I want people to know that, that these are costly investments for the Poles. And it is important for Poland to know that when they buy equipment, like the Abrams tanks, like the F 35, and the Patriots, and the HIMARs, and all the other equipment that they’re buying, that it comes with education, training, exchanges, and other learning tools very important in terms of the training of the Polish military.  But it’s not lost on me, Grzegorz, that this is expensive, and that your listeners are paying part of this. And it’s important for them to know that we see this as a significant expense to advance security of Poland and the transatlantic community.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: Let me ask you about the important part of the security, security of the airspace. And I would like to ask you, if you could tell as something about the opening of Redzikowo base, about maybe next Patriot systems coming to Poland, even for some time to prevent anything that could happen during this time of war in neighborhood of Poland?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Sure. Well, Grzegorz, you can imagine that I will only want to say so much on radio regarding how our anti-missile systems work. But I will say this, it is important that Putin and Russia have not made any mistake yet with anything happening in Poland. We do have the Patriot system deployed here. And we have more on the way.  We do have the Aegis system underway. And this is part and parcel of the defense of not just Poland, but all of Europe. It is also important that your neighbors are getting Patriots and anti missile systems – the Swedes for example.  I served as US ambassador in Sweden. It is amazing and wonderful that Sweden and Finland are now joining NATO. And they will be part of this web of security that NATO represents.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: Let me ask you about a topic which is important for Polish people from the point of view of our security. I mean, the nuclear sharing NATO program.  Is the possible participation of Poland in this on the table for discussion? Is it part of the discussion? Is it possible? Is America thinking about it?

Ambassador Brzezinski: I don’t think I should really say anything about that particular program. I have heard what the Russians have invoked in terms of nuclear, and there’s nothing to me more despicable that than what they are saying in terms of that.  For the Russian leaders to invoke nuclear, in terms of the security crisis that they have created in North Central Europe, is a really scary thing. And of course, we’re watching all this closely and talking closely with our partners. I want to say that our relationship with Poland, the Baltics, Romania, Slovakia, when it comes to this Ukraine crisis, it didn’t just start on February 24th, when Russia invaded Ukraine. It started months earlier, when our intelligence community – and I think this is our finest hour, or one of our finest hours for our intelligence community – because months before February 24th, thanks to the leadership of President Joe Biden, we were sharing intelligence with the Baltic states, with Poland, with other countries regarding the defensive and offensive structures of the Russian military. And what the Russian political leaders intended to do with that military vis-a-vis Ukraine.  so that when February 24th came about, we were ready.  We were ready for the attacks. We were ready for the border crossings. We were prepared. And I think that when military history is written, that will be important to see that the Americans, the Europeans, the Poles, this part of the world, we got it right, and we were ready on day one.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: Let me ask you a little bit about the economy. For successful partnerships, economic cooperation is of great importance. Does the US take into consideration facilitating transfer of technologies and shifting some production of significant elements of armaments to Poland?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, I said earlier, Grzegorz, what the defense industry is doing; what Lockheed Martin is doing here in Poland, Pratt and Whitney and Collins, and Collins is right here in Wroclaw. Also 3M is and other incredible American companies and brands. And I will tell you this as US ambassador for only four months here in Poland – so remember, I’m here at 16 weeks; I’m 16 weeks old in his job – the business to business piece for me is key. And I am doing everything to bring US Business Leadership to Poland. Last couple of weeks, the US Embassy has hosted the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai. Last week, we hosted Polish-American Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and they announced 1000s of Polish shops, white collar, high tech, Polish jobs, to build out YouTube here in Poland.  The CEO of McDonald’s, which is opening now it’s over 500th store.  The business to business piece is amazing. I was just meeting with the amazing film distributor Roman Gutek, who’s here in Wroclaw. Roman is someone I respect so much in an industry that is so competitive, the film industry, the movie industry.  What he does here in Wroclaw, I want to build that out, too. I want to help get American producers, American stars here. So you have an ambassador here, who really genuinely wants to engage with the Polish economy, and to advance it as a bridge between America and Poland. I did that as US Ambassador to Sweden, and I want to do it here.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: We have an energy crisis in the world, in Europe. Of course, we know the reasons for that. How far can the US go to help Europe and Poland get energy independence? We know that the oil and gas industry is not the first thing on President Biden’s mind because of the climate. We know that the administration wanted to reduce the use of oil and and gas in the world. But now it seems to go the other way. How far can the US go?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, you know, Grzegorz, in fact, the very first topic that was brought up during the meeting between President Joe Biden and President Andrzej Duda at the Royal Castle in March when President Biden visited Poland was energy security. Because energy security is a clear pillar of security. There’s military security; there’s food security; there’s economic security; and there’s energy security.  And Poland has critically important choices to make this year in terms of its energy futures. And we care about the next generations of Poles. We care about the Poles that will come after us over the next 100 years. And they have to get their power from somewhere other than coal, and other than Russian sources of energy. And there are important options that are being considered now by Poland, about nuclear energy, about renewable energy. But those decision questions ultimately have to have a decision answer. And some important choices are on the line now, in terms of the Americans and Poles working together on nuclear, on renewables, that will power the next century for Poles. And that is incredibly important.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: Let me ask you about the politics concerning the Three Seas Initiative, because it’s not only Poland, other countries in this part of Europe who are interested in strong cooperation with United States.  There were some signs that America is interested in it. What is the opinion at the moment?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well the Three Seas Initiative was made for this crisis.  Because it’s about regional cooperation on infrastructure, including, for example, energy security, supply chain and the like. So not only do we endorse it, we support it. The Three Seas Initiative Summit is coming up in the end of June – so the end of this month, and I am looking forward to important announcements and further engagement on the Three Seas Initiative. I in fact, will be going to Lublin on Monday.  I believe the Polish Prime Minister will be addressing an important conference in Poland on the Three Seas Initiative, just in the next couple of days. I look forward to that.

Grzegorz Jasinski, RMF: Let me ask you in the end, the question I shouldn’t ask because you are the first ambassador to Poland who is not asked about the visa problem. And I’ve asked about visas many times. You are free in this topic. But please let me ask you about how quickly we will have an opportunity to meet each other – Polish people, American people – after the pandemic, after the crisis. Do you expect this cooperation and meeting of Polish and American people – because there are no visas at the moment – coming quickly?

Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, let me say this, Grzegorz,: One, I really salute my predecessor Georgette mosbacher, US Ambassador to Poland, for getting that done. It was an issue that I worked on, over decades, with previous presidential candidates, every one of them I worked with, and I was impressed that this was accomplished the last couple of years. And as a Polish-American, I’m thankful to Georgette for what she did. She’s a friend of mine and someone who I enjoy talking with and learning from and comparing notes with. Two, what is the Visa Waiver Program the tactical implementation of? greater people people travel and connectivity. And that’s what I want to see the next decade in terms of America Polish relations, reach new heights on I think we have a moment when Poland and America share the same freedom. Poland and America share the same crisis, the Ukraine crisis; and Poland and America can help each other in terms of innovation, business development, and shared prosperity for the futures of our children. There is a tremendous dynamism in the relationship now and potential for much greater dynamism. And as US Ambassador to Poland, I intend to go after that, like you would not believe. So stay tuned.