Stray-Missile Incident Should Serve to Strengthen Multidimensional US-Poland Partnership

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Speaking after last week’s deadly missile incident near Przewodow, a Polish village not far from the Ukrainian border, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki pointedly noted that the blame for it was Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Noting that “passivity will be suicide for us,” Morawiecki further emphasized that “there is only one way to involve Poland in the war, and this way is to turn away from [supporting and defending] Ukraine.”

Such clarity of thinking and the firm stance of supporting Ukraine make Warsaw matter to Washington more than ever. 

Indeed, Poland has become America’s most vital partner on a number of key security fronts in Europe, whether they be military, economic, or energy. 

On the military dimension, as a recent Politico article noted, “while Germany, traditionally America’s key ally in the region, remains a linchpin as a logistical hub, Berlin’s endless debates over how to resurrect its military and lack of a strategic culture have hampered its effectiveness as a partner.” 

Poland, a geopolitically important and strategic member of NATO on Europe’s border with Russia, is an indispensable ally of the U.S. As a proactive security contributor, Poland is a critical gateway and interlocutor for America’s strategic engagement with Central and Eastern European countries. 

In fact, Poland has been playing a heightened role as a vital bulwark against Moscow’s geopolitical designs. More specifically, Rzeszow, the largest city in southeastern Poland, has become an important outpost of the West, receiving refugees from Ukraine and operating as a hub for weapons transports from the U.S. The city has been hosting the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and other American personnel.

Moreover, Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the growing desire in Europe to move away from reliance on Russian energy have also injected a new imperative into dialogue on transatlantic energy security and independence. 

On that important foreign policy front, the United States is also paving a new way forward with Poland, which had been a leading critic of Nord Stream 2, the Russian-owned pipeline project that would allow Germany to increase the amount of natural gas it imports directly from Russia via the Baltic Sea.

An American company, Westinghouse Electric Co., has been selected to build the first nuclear power plant in Poland. That will bring energy security as one of the additional core parts of the two allies’ forward-looking collaboration. As Secretary of State Antony Blinken summed it up, “The U.S. commitment to work with Poland to facilitate the production of safe, clean, and reliable nuclear power is a testament to our deep, bilateral strategic security and economic relationship.”

From a broader trade and investment perspective, Poland is a key pillar of economic security in Europe as well. Enhancing bilateral relationships with Poland on key transatlantic economic engagement is clearly in America’s national interest.

To that end, one of the pragmatic and strategic interactions on which Washington has been working with Poland is the Three Seas Initiative, which aims to advance economic freedom and dynamism in the region.

The initiative, led by Poland, was launched to promote connectivity among the nations in the regions of the Black, Adriatic, and Baltic seas, supporting infrastructure development and other key aspects of connectivity. Indeed, the task of making the Three Seas Initiative more operational in practice has gained greater urgency and necessity.

Clearly, U.S.-Polish relations have been driven by these three pillars of security—military, energy, and economic. That will certainly deepen and broaden America’s strategic bilateral relationship with Poland while serving two longtime allies’ mutual interests.  

Now is the time for Washington and Warsaw to further reinforce and amplify their unique multidimensional partnership.

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