Poland wants Washington to manage security in Europe, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has said
Poland rejects the idea of an “imaginary EU army” and sees the US as its key military partner, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Tuesday. In its bid to build “the strongest land army” in Europe, Warsaw has aggressively courted Washington.
“I have found that any competition between [NATO] and the EU when it comes to security is a very bad thing,” Blaszczak told reporters after meeting with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Poland’s PAP news agency reported.
EU members should be responsible for their own defense, he continued, adding that Poland has chosen a close partnership with the US over “some imaginary European army or the transfer of competences to the European level.”
Prior to the conflict in Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron and former German Chancellor Angela Merkel were two of the most vocal proponents of an EU army. Macron famously referred to NATO as “brain dead” in 2019, and urged European leaders to pursue a policy of “strategic autonomy” from Washington, which via NATO has dictated security policy on the continent since the end of World War II.
However, Macron has since shifted his rhetoric on NATO and now supports the expansion of the US-led alliance. Merkel’s replacement, Olaf Scholz, still speaks of the need for “a more sovereign…European Union,” but has remained silent on the idea of building what Merkel called “a real, true European army.”
Ultimately, the EU approved the creation of a common defense strategy last year, which provided for the creation of a 5,000-strong “rapid deployment” force – falling dramatically short of Macron and Merkel’s vision.
Poland has remained steadfast in its opposition to the notion of a Brussels-led army, preferring to rely on the US as its security guarantor. Polish President Andrzej Duda has dramatically stepped up military purchases from the US since 2019, and in the last year alone his government has signed a deal to buy $10 billion worth of HIMARS rocket artillery systems, taken a $2 billion loan from Washington to modernize its military, and welcomed the first permanent garrison of American troops to a base in Poznan.
US reveals number of troops stationed in Poland
Duda also announced last October that Poland had volunteered to host US nuclear weapons on its territory, although the US State Department said that Washignton had “no plans” to take him up on the offer.
“We can say that Poland is the most important ally of the United States on the eastern flank of NATO, as evidenced by the fact that approximately 10,000 American soldiers are stationed in Poland,” Blaszczak said on Tuesday. In September, he predicted that “the Polish army will have the strongest land army” in Europe within two years, thanks to loans and purchases from the US.