On Friday, the Baltic news wire Balticet.info reported that Russia had intensified pressure on the countries of Belarus and Poland by placing tactical nuclear weapons on the Russian-Belarusian border. The Russian weapons are aimed at freezing Poland’s and Belarus’ plans to host the U.S. missile shield, which is meant to counteract Russian missiles. The Washington Post reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a conference that “We have been compelled to put missile launchers on the border of Belarus because we no longer trust that the present Warsaw government will not break its cooperation with the U.S. and its alliance with NATO in the missile defense area.”
The announcement is just the latest escalation in a nine-year dispute. In July 2008, Poland and the Czech Republic agreed to host U.S. ground-based intermediate-range missiles aimed at Russia. The move further angered Moscow, which had already filed a formal complaint with the UN after the Pentagon had chosen Poland and the Czech Republic as two of four locations where the missile defense program would be stationed. The original decision was revoked in 2011 amid protests from Russia. Now, the missiles are set to be deployed in Poland and Czech Republic, and Eastern Europe has become increasingly tense, with tensions further heightened by Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.
This might be Poland’s chance.