Polish Americans and Polish immigrants living in the US offered a variety of reactions to the missile shield agreement signed this week by the US and Poland. According to US officials the 10 interceptor missiles to be placed on Polish soil are intended to protect the US and its allies from an attack by a rogue state such as Iran.
As part of the deal the Bush administration also agreed to the placement in Poland of a Patriot missile battery – a short-range missile system that theoretically could be used in case of Russia’s attack. Moreover, as the New York Times reported, the deal came with a promise that, “at least temporarily American soldiers would staff air sites in Poland oriented towards Russia, and that the United States would be obliged to defend Poland in case of an attack with greater speed than required under NATO, of which Poland is a member.” The agreement came soon after Russia invaded Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, and a close American ally.
The move infuriated Russia. Shortly after the deal was announced a top Russian general, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said that Poland risks a military attack, possibly even nuclear, for agreeing to host a US missile defense system on its territory. “Such targets are destroyed as a first priority,” he warned.
It sounded all too familiar to Poles, who, still remembering the times when their country was a Soviet satellite, almost felt a gust of the Cold War era.