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Viewing cable 09WARSAW467, POLAND - CODEL LEVIN DISCUSSES MISSILE DEFENSE,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09WARSAW467 2009-05-07 05:05 2010-12-06 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Warsaw
VZCZCXRO8229
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHWR #0467/01 1270517
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 070517Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8260
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 WARSAW 000467 

SIPDIS 

EUR, PM, H 

EO 12958 DECL: 04/20/2019 
TAGS PREL, PGOV, MARR, OREP, RS, PL 

SUBJECT: POLAND - CODEL LEVIN DISCUSSES MISSILE DEFENSE, 
PATRIOTS

REF: WARSAW 375

Classified By: Ambassador Ashe for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: In meetings with CODEL Levin, the Polish Prime Minister’s chief of staff, the President’s deputy national security advisor, and the speaker of the Polish parliament expressed unanimous support for a large U.S. military footprint in Poland to bolster Article 5 guarantees.  PM chief of staff Slawomir Nowak told CODEL that, regardless of the U.S. decision on Missile Defense, Poland expects the U.S. to “honor its commitments” to bring a Patriot battery to Poland. All three Polish officials requested that the U.S. keep Poland updated on the status of dialogue with Russia, suggesting that Russia, not Iran, poses the greater threat to Poland. CODEL’s meeting with FM Sikorski is reported septel.  END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), visited Warsaw April 15-16 to discuss Missile Defense and Polish interest in a U.S. Patriot battery rotation with Polish officials, including Prime Minister Tusk’s chief of staff Slawomir Nowak, Deputy Chief of President Kaczynski’s National Security Bureau Witold Waszczykowski, and Parliamentary Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski (Civic Platform, PO). The Senators’ meetings with Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Komorowski are reported septel.

U.S. “ROCK SOLID” ON ARTICLE FIVE

3. (C) Senator Levin began all three meetings by conveying the President’s message that the U.S. commitment to the NATO Article 5 guarantee is “rock solid.” While U.S. support for Poland may differ in form under the Obama administration, U.S. support for Poland will be strong. When asked whether Warsaw felt assured that NATO would honor its Article 5 commitments to Poland, Waszczykowski said “we still have our doubts,” adding that some European members -- particularly France -- prefer talk to action, he wryly added “that’s why we bought F-16s and not French Mirages, and why we went through with the Missile Defense deal.”

PATRIOTS AND AMERICAN BOOTS

4. (C) Senator Levin warned all three interlocutors that if the Czechs reject the proposed MD radar site, the Polish component of MD would be put in jeopardy under current U.S. legislation. Nowak expressed confidence that the Czechs would ratify the agreement with the U.S., suggesting they are simply waiting for a U.S. decision on MD. Speaker Komorowski acknowledged the provisions of U.S. law, but stated Poland does not want to be responsible for Czech problems. Senator Collins acknowledged the political cost to Poland of supporting MD, and asked for Komorowski,s views on how to maintain support for the United States if it pursues a different course.

5. (C) Asked whether Poland would be reassured by the presence of Patriot batteries in lieu of MD, Nowak told CODEL Levin that, regardless of MD’s fate, the GOP expects the USG to “honor its commitments” on Patriots. Poland intends to build a comprehensive air-defense system and has identified Patriots as “the most important element” of its defense modernization efforts. Nowak said Poland “will not suffer” if the U.S. withdraws from MD, but repeatedly asserted that the GOP is “counting on Patriots.” (NB: At one point, Nowak even intervened when his interpreter mistakenly said the Poles “would like Patriots.” “No, we are counting on them,” Nowak emphasized in English.)

6. (C) Waszczykowski was less adamant about Patriots, stating that Poland and the U.S. had a binding political agreement on security matters, which he hoped the United States would respect. He added that Poland “wants U.S. boots on the ground” -- not necessarily as a tripwire, but as a deterrent.  Nowak similarly stressed Poland’s strong interest in “deepening” military cooperation, ideally to include a large U.S. footprint in Poland. He mused that one Patriot battery and ten MD interceptors do not constitute the “impressive presence” that Poland is hoping for.

7. (C) Speaker Komorowski and Nowak both pointed out that, by agreeing to host the MD site, Poland had paid a “high price” -- especially in its relations with other EU members and with Russia. Komorowski expressed concern that Poland had again become a Russian target after a dozen years of improving relations -- senior Russian officials have threatened to target Poland with nuclear missiles, are stirring up
WARSAW 00000467 002 OF 002
anti-Polish sentiment among Russians, and are acting against Poland’s interests in Ukraine.

8. (C) Komorowski argued that the U.S. needs to fulfill its symbolic agreement to show involvement in defense of Polish territory. If the new administration is changing U.S. political priorities, it also needs to engage in dialogue with Poland, not just Russia. Most important for Poland is U.S. involvement in Polish security, through physical presence of American forces in Poland, NATO facilities in Poland, fulfilling the commitment to provide Patriot missiles, and greater U.S.-Polish cooperation.

DIALOGUE WITH RUSSIA

9. (C) Komorowski, Nowak, and Waszczykowski stressed the importance of keeping Poland updated on the status of U.S.-Russia talks. Nowak stressed the GOP’s strong interest in a positive outcome, but reminded the CODEL that U.S. negotiators had promised the USG would overcome Russian objections to MD. “The MD site is an American base. The burden of achieving Russian agreement is on the U.S. side,” he said. Even so, Nowak said, Poland had agreed to accept confidence-building measures with the Russians and was also working to convince Moscow that MD is not a threat to Russia’s nuclear arsenal. Regardless, Russia will find it difficult to accept any “tangible manifestation” of a NATO presence in Poland or the Czech Republic.

10. (C) Nowak said Poland had not discussed Patriots with the Russians. Russia should not have a say in Poland’s defense modernization planning. Noting that Poland’s armed forces are “defensive in nature,” Nowak reiterated that Poland’s primary goal is to increase interoperability with allies.

11. (C) Presidential Advisor Waszczykowski reacted more emotionally. While Washington is entitled to talk to Russia, to work toward a solution to the Iranian threat, and to make its own decision about the MD initiative, the U.S. should take care not to undermine Poland’s security. He then wondered aloud, “How long will it take you to realize that nothing will change with Iran and Russia?” Waszczykowski asserted that Moscow is trying to regain its sphere of influence and stressed the critical importance of an increased U.S. or NATO presence for Poland’s security. He added that Russia continues to deny its historical wrong-doings against Poland, imposes economic sanctions against Poland at will, and frequently disrupts the flow of oil and gas.

THREAT FROM IRAN?

12. (C) In all three meetings, Senator Nelson expressed doubt that Iran would abandon its nuclear weapons or missile programs, but noted that the Iranian threat to Europe could be met for the foreseeable future with the AEGIS and THAAD systems. Waszczykowski, who served as Poland’s Ambassador to Tehran (1999-2002), agreed that Iran poses an increasing threat to the United States and Europe. He said that the Iranian regime has no incentive to warm relations with Washington because the regime has built its own legitimacy on the cornerstone of anti-Americanism.

13. (C) Nowak and Komorowski told the CODEL that Poland does not perceive a direct threat from Iran. Nowak stated that, as an active and loyal ally, Poland had agreed to host the MD site because of the threat Iran poses to the U.S. and others in NATO. He noted that Poland’s desire to be a strong ally was also the basis for its activity in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nowak said Poland perceives a greater threat from non-state actors, but conceded that Iran’s support for terrorist organizations was troubling. He added that Poland’s decision to host MD had moved it “closer to the top of Iran’s list,” and, as a result, made Patriots more important to Poland’s security.

14. (U) CODEL Levin has cleared this message.
ASHE