29 June 20222
Ambassador Brzezinski: Thank you all for gathering this afternoon. There is a historic event, particularly pertinent to Poland’s security underway right now in Madrid, Spain. That is the NATO Summit. And as President Biden’s personal representative to Poland, I could not be more proud of the announcements generally, and the Polish specific announcements in particular that are being made. In particular, it has been announced that in Poland, we will permanently station the V Corps headquarters forward command post in Poznan. That is a significant and important designation. In addition, we are putting permanently in Poznan an Army Garrison headquarters, and that will be supported by a Field Support Battalion. These forces, the first permanent US forces on NATO’s eastern flank ever, will improve our command and control. They will improve our interoperability with Polish forces, with other forces, and with NATO forces. And it will improve our management of prepositioned equipment. All of this is happening in part because of Poland’s central role in supporting NATO’s combat credible deterrence and defense posture. In addition, the United States is seeking to enhance its substantial rotational forces presence in Poland, including our Armored Brigade Combat Team, Combat Aviation Brigade element, and other forces. This is an important step; this is a historic step. I can report to the journalists assembled that I met for almost one hour this past Friday, with President Biden one-on-one at the White House. And President Biden conveyed to me how proud he is, how impressed he is by Poland’s response to the humanitarian crisis coming out of Ukraine. President Biden and I talked at length: the fundamental underpinnings of that response, that profound act of humanity that Poland is extending to Ukrainian refugees. He says thank you, I say “dzienkuje” and Let me now open it up for questions.
Magdalena Wlodarczyk, TVPInfo: Hello, my name is Magdalena Wlodarczyk. I’m from the public TV, TVPInfo. I just want to ask for a comment. US President Joe Biden said in Madrid about the creation of permanent headquarters of the Fifth Corps in Poland and more American troops in Poland. What does it mean for Poland? What’s changed after that? Thank you.
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, we haven’t used the word “permanent” before, when it comes to our forces here. And this pertains to an army headquarters in Poznan. That is an important signal to our allies, starting with the Poles, but also to others, regarding how geostrategically pivotal Poland is to the security of NATO, especially as it pertains to the east. And it’s also a message to Putin. To quote President Biden, “we will protect every square inch of NATO territory”, and that designation, and that force posture is meant to reinforce that.
Judyta Jakubinska, Polsat News: Judyta Jakubinska, Polsat News. Then the United States would increase its military presence in Europe. What does it mean not only for Poland? But what does it mean for the security of NATO countries and how it may affect Russia’s actions?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, I think that if you look at the White House fact sheet that was just released, and the Department of Defense factsheet that is just released, the force posture adjustment is across Europe. Increase in the number of US Navy destroyers in Spain, an increase in F 35 presence in England, force posture adjustments in Romania and elsewhere. This is to signal to Putin that we will defend every square inch of NATO territory. And this will be my message to the people of Poland: “Polska jest bezpieczna i Polska jest zabezpieczona” – Poland is safe, and Poland is secure. We are making these force adjustments after a very careful assessment of the threat. And that is how we are going to be postured to, again, protect every square inch of NATO territory, including Poland. It is a historic development. And when I say historic, I mean, I want you to think about the hundreds of years over which Poles have risked their lives for American freedom like Tadeusz Kosciuszko, and Pulaski. And Americans have risked their lives for Polish freedom, witness the 10,000 plus US troops, currently in Poland. Today, America and Poland share the same freedom. And we’re going to protect each other. And we’re also going to stand up for the people of Ukraine. That’s what I mean, when I invoked the word historic, never before have we use the word permanent when it comes to our footprint here.
Michal Sznajder, TVN: Good afternoon, Mr. Ambassador. First of all, thank you very much for the opportunity to ask about this extremely significant event. Sir, will this arrangement be discontinued once Russia leaves Ukraine or is it as permanent as permanent as in perpetuity?
Ambassador Brzezinski: Well, it’s extremely significant because of the use of the word “permanent”. And I think that is meant to convey something as opposed to “temporary” or “for the time being”. I think that it is an incredibly important designation. And it’s in alignment with some of the other steps that are being taken, including now the formal application of Sweden and Finland, just to the north of Poland, to join NATO. I used to be US Ambassador to Sweden for four years. I know personally, how fundamentally significant a decision that is to the people of Sweden and to the government of Sweden, and I’m here to report to you that the use of the word permanent when it comes stationing the V corps headquarters forward command post in Poznan is meant to convey that we will be here on an enduring basis. That’s the way I would define that: we will be here on an enduring basis. And it is absolutely pertaining to the threat that Russia has created by attacking Ukraine and threatening this entire region.
Jerzy Adamiak, PAP: Thank you, Jerzy Adamiak, Polish Press Agency. Mr. Ambassador, can you tell us more about numbers of soldiers who will serve in the command in Poznan? how many of them will be there stationed permanently? Thank you.
Ambassador Brzezinski: I’m not going to get into specific numbers, Jerzy. We have now more than 10,000 US troops in Poland, all on Polish bases spread out all across Poland. There is a strategic reason for that. And now we’re adding the word “permanent” to our V corps command headquarters in Poznan, and standing up an Army Garrison to support that headquarters. Those are absolutely significant steps that require guts and courage on the part of President Biden in terms of a policy decision. I think that it is incredibly important that he has been willing to step up – because not everyone agrees with this – to step up and say, “This is what must be done. The people of Poland must be protected, NATO territory must be protected. And we will do that through a permanent headquarters in Poland”, the first time in history and, something that you know as well as I do, it will be something that is noticed in Russia. And I’m proud of him for having done that. Again, I met with him for almost one hour, one on one this past Friday. And we talked at length about what has happened here in Poland. And he was asking me so many questions about what inspires, what underpins that humanity. And when I said, “Mr. President, for the Poles, this is 1939 again.” President Biden knew exactly what I meant when I said that. And so this is a time when America and Poland are working more closely on the security dimension than ever before in history. I’m proud to stand with my friends in Poland, to bear witness to this and I’m proud to report this to you.