Just before the American presidential transfer of power, US troops arrived in Poland. The positioning of 4000 men and over 200 vehicles is part of the NATO response to the Russian annexation of the Crimea in 2015. After a ceremony and welcome speeches by the Polish prime minister and minister of defense, Polish citizens posed with the soldiers. Jacek Nowik feels safer now in Poland.
Photo: US Army Europe | Text: Teun Fiers
‘I would give these soldiers a warm welcome in Poland. In the past ten years, Russia has become more of a threat again for Eastern Europe. What has happened to the Crimea could happen to our Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania, possibly leading to an atomic war. I believe that the positioning of NATO troops prevents this from happening.
Suspicion of Russia has a long tradition in Poland. Officially, Poland and Russia still disagree about the actual start of the Second World War and this makes us feel disrespected. In contrast, I feel that the past oppression and the sovereignty of Poland are fully recognized here in the Netherlands. This was clear for me at the Airborne museum in Oosterbeek, where Polish is the third language into which all the information is translated. Recently, our government has been building on the old anti-Russian sentiment in the country, and increasing our fears by investing heavily in national defense.
Another aspect of this is international relations between Poland and the US. Clearly, it is a sign of close ties between these countries. However, I am not completely satisfied by how the US treats our country. Ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, it is difficult for Polish people to travel to the US; getting a visa is complicated and expensive. Some years ago, Obama promised to treat Polish people in the same way as Western Europeans, but the visa policy has not changed yet. If we are really a friend of the United States, why haven’t they changed that yet?’