In July 2016, while swearing in 105 Polish soldiers being promoted to the rank of podporucznik (roughly equivalent to the rank of second lieutenant and a junior officer rank of the Polish Army), the Minister of National Defence for Poland, Antoni Macierewicz, announced Warsaw’s military plans for the near future:
– to increase the number of Polish troops from 100,000 to 150,000 by 2017;
– to set up 17 brigades, one in each of Poland’s 16 provinces and two in Mazovia Province (where Warsaw is situated);
– to urgently deploy new brigades in the provinces of Podlaskie, Podkarpackie and Lubelskie and four battalions in Białystok (on the border with Belarus), Lublin and Rzeszów (both on the border with Ukraine), and Siedlce (90 kilometres from Warsaw); and
– to set up territorial defence forces consisting of 35,000 volunteers, or 164 units, to assist the army.
The territorial defence forces will be the fifth branch of the Polish Armed Forces (after the Land Forces, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Special Forces).
Antoni Macierewicz said that an army of 150,000 is the minimum required for cooperation between Poland and its allies «in the event of a real threat to our independence». And in order to justify this militaristic itch to the Polish people, the defence minister added: «This threat is real and it is coming from the Russian government».
It is impossible to deny the achievements of the Polish authorities in whipping up war hysteria in the country, of course, but their role is ultimately secondary. The root cause should be sought in the work of leading Western think tanks.
The authors of a report published in July (2016) by the European Council on Foreign Relations entitled «An unpredictable Russia: the impact on Poland» are trying to make the Polish people believe that the risk posed by Russia is comparable with the threat of terrorism to Europe (!), that «Central and eastern Europe represents the testing ground for Vladimir Putin’s project to create a new world order». And this statement is presented as an axiom.
On 11 August, an article was published on the BBC’s website under the headline «The Polish paramilitaries preparing for war» which states that nearly 100,000 people have now joined paramilitary organisations in Poland and others are learning how to survive a possible invasion. US National Guard units will serve as the prototype for the territorial defence forces, which are to be an integral part of the Polish Armed Forces, and US instructors are involved in their training and indoctrination.
On 19 July 2016, the Atlantic Council presented a 25-page report entitled «Arming for deterrence. How Poland and NATO should counter a resurgent Russia», which is a kind of postscript to the alliance’s summit in July. Calling for a large-scale military build-up in NATO’s zone of responsibility, the report suggests that Poland should be regarded as a front-line bastion in a war with Russia.
Half of the report deals with recommendations to the Polish government regarding the militarisation of the country, with the clear aim of creating war hysteria among the population.
Thus, the Atlantic Council recommends that Warsaw should:
– issue a statement declaring that Poland will come to the aid of the Baltic States and Romania should they be attacked by Russia;
– publish a list of potential targets for Polish strikes in Russia, primarily in the Kaliningrad Oblast;
– enable Polish F-16s to be carriers of tactical nuclear ordnance;
– declare that, if attacked, Poland reserves the right to dispatch Special Operations Forces deep into Russian territory to carry out acts of sabotage;
– be prepared to destroy Russian infrastructure facilities using missiles; and
– announce that, if attacked by Russia, Poland reserves the right to deploy offensive cyber operations against such targets as the Moscow metro, the St. Petersburg power network, and the TV news channel RT.
Generally speaking, the list of recommendations in the report can reasonably be considered the ravings of a madman. This feeling is intensified by the name of the report’s author – retired British General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as NATO’s deputy supreme allied commander in Europe between 2011 and 2014 and who has recently gained renown as a novelist.
In May this year, Sir Shirreff presented his book «2017: War with Russia» in London, in which the author states that war between Russia and the West is inevitable. The book opens with a colourful description of the beginning of the war, and this heart-rending scene was written with the firm belief that it would capture anyone’s imagination: Russian troops attack a school in Donetsk and kill around a hundred innocent children in order to blame it on the Ukrainian military and thus create a pretext for large-scale aggression against Ukraine and Europe, which has dropped its guard. Sir Shirreff himself called his work a «prophesy novel».
The politicians currently in power in Poland can boast about their supposed independence in international affairs as much as they like, but in reality, immersed in an atmosphere of hatred with their Russian neighbour, they can only dance obediently to the tune of gentlemen like the retired British General and aspiring novelist Richard Shirreff. And dances like that will never end well.