Poland’s most powerful politician said he “might be open” to the US stationing nuclear weapons in his nation, a neighbor to Ukraine — drawing condemnation Monday from the Kremlin, which warned it would only heighten tensions amid fears of atomic war.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, told German weekly Welt am Sonntag that “in principle, it makes sense to extend nuclear participation to the eastern flank.”
“If the Americans asked us to store US nuclear weapons in Poland, we would be open to it,” he said Sunday in an interview also posted on his party’s website.
“It would significantly strengthen deterrence against Moscow,” he said, while also calling for a much stronger presence of US soldiers in Europe, especially on NATO’s eastern flank.
He said that “Poland would welcome an increase in the American presence in Europe in the future from the current 100,000 soldiers to 150,000 soldiers because of Russia’s increasing aggressiveness.”
“Of these, 75,000 soldiers should be stationed on the eastern flank; ie, on the border with Russia; 50,000 soldiers in the Baltic states and Poland,” he said in the interview.
The Kremlin condemned his comments on Monday, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov warning that such a move would only heighten tensions amid ongoing fears of nuclear attacks.
Within days of invading Ukraine in late February, Russian President Vladimir Putin put his atomic forces on a heightened state of alert, citing fictitious threats from NATO.
Kremlin spokesman Peskov later told CNN that Russia would feel justified using its nuclear arsenal if it felt “an existential threat for our country,” without elaborating on exactly what would meet that standard.
Poland’s desire for more US soldiers in the area comes as the nation has taken in nearly 2.5 million of the 4.2 million refugees who have fled Ukraine during Russia’s brutal war.
With Post wires