(GPA) Warsaw – Upon the recent confirmation of a $225 million dollar contract for air-to-surface missiles between Boeing and the Polish government, tensions are continuing to heighten in Eastern Europe.
The purchase of the 70 JASSM-ER long range missiles (worth about $850,000 per unit) is already ratcheting up tension between the government officials in Warsaw and Moscow as Eastern Europe becomes increasingly militarized. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko spoke on the issue, saying that the new missiles for Poland’s F-16 fighter jets will be “taken into account in our military planning.” Grushko also said that Moscow will be monitoring the purchase and deployment of the missiles closely.
The missiles are long range air-to-surface weapons that Poland says it needs in order to protect itself from possible future Russian aggression. The missiles may end up only being good on Polish soil if Grushko is to be believed. If Moscow accounts for these weapons in military planning, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the deployment of advanced anti-air missile systems deployed near the Russo-Polish border. These missile systems, as well as Russian missile defense systems are highly capable and are already being used to protect the Syrian government from western coalition air strikes on their territory.
Sputnik Poland had an interview with a retired Polish Vice Admiral, Marek Toczek who also warned of the unnecessary danger the purchase of these missiles could cause. Toczek warned that “This step will further tighten the spiral of mistrust, strengthen unnecessary irritation and provoke a conflict. Unfortunately, Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party is pursuing a policy that is prompting a huge negative reaction.” He also added that there was “no surprise that Moscow will take the appropriate steps to neutralize the potential of these missiles.”
There are some who disagree that this is a bad idea including US senator and former presidential John McCain, who is currently visiting Estonia and says that the US troops currently stationed there are “signal that we believe in what Ronald Reagan believed, and that is peace through strength,” and that the “best way to prevent Russian misbehaviour by having a credible, strong military and a strong Nato alliance.” McCain’s visit to Estonia is during just the latest of constantly increasing NATO drills in Eastern Europe.
Many alternative media sources hyped the fear that if Hillary Clinton had White House the tension with Russia would rise but somehow that Trump’s election and criticism of NATO made that unlikely. Many NATO members said they’d continue ‘defending Europe’s interests’ with or without the US and Poland is the prime example, . With Trump talking about improving relations with Russia, more of the populist and nationalist leaders in Eastern Europe are now even more nervous about Russian hostility and may continue to respond in ways like this. It’s also clear that no matter what Trump does these nations will still have encouragement from traditionally hawkish neocons in the Republican Party whose foreign policy is very similar to that of Clinton’s.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.