Poland’s deputy prime minister has called on the United States to station nuclear weapons in his country, arguing they would act as a deterrent against Russia while urging the NATO alliance to significantly boost its presence across Eastern Europe.
A strong critic of Moscow who’s repeatedly called for direct military action amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Deputy PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski suggested that American bombs could be deployed to Poland during an interview with German newspaper Die Welt on Sunday.
“Basically, it makes sense to expand nuclear sharing to [NATO’s] eastern flank,” he said. “If the Americans asked us to store US nuclear weapons in Poland, we would be open to that. It would significantly increase deterrence towards Moscow.”
Kaczynski – who also leads the ruling Law and Justice Party and is considered a major decision-maker in Warsaw – went on to call for a “large operational NATO command in Poland,” hoping for a larger NATO presence that could be used to plan and conduct joint military operations.
“That would send a clear signal to Moscow: the NATO leadership is now also present in the east,” he continued, also calling on Washington to increase its troop levels “from the present 100,000 soldiers up to 150,000 in the future due to Russia’s increasing aggression.”
Of those, he said 75,000 should be stationed directly on Russia’s border, while 50,000 others should be deployed elsewhere in Poland and Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which are NATO members.
The deputy PM harshly criticized both France and Germany for what he called a “strong bias in Moscow’s favor,” urging them to take a tougher stance toward Russia, including with a EU-backed oil embargo as well as additional weapons shipments to Ukraine.
Responding to Kaczynski’s comments on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they were a cause for “deep concern,” arguing that Warsaw has pursued “extremely belligerent, anti-Russian” policies in recent months.
“The proposed measures will lead to further escalation of tensions on the ground,” Peskov told reporters.
Poland has been among Ukraine’s more vocal advocates since Russia launched its invasion in late February, repeatedly calling on Washington and European allies to step up support for the government in Kiev. During a meeting with Ukrainian officials last month, Kaczynski proposed an armed “peace mission” in the war-torn country, suggesting the NATO alliance send troops to deliver humanitarian aid. Warsaw has also floated plans to ship warplanes to Ukraine, though the United States ultimately refused to back the scheme, seeing little tactical benefit and a high risk of escalation with Russia.
Four European states, as well as Turkey, currently host American nuclear weapons on their soil, including Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Seven other NATO members participate in the bloc’s SNOWCAT program – under which non-nuclear nations offer conventional air support for nuclear operations – while all 30 members of the alliance with the exception of France belong to its nuclear planning group.