Good afternoon. Thank you deputy Marshall Włodzimierz Czarzasty for proposing this event and inviting me. And thanks to the Bronislaw Komorowski Institute and the Amicus Europae Foundation for organizing.
It is an honor to be with you, alongside the founders of Poland’s NATO membership.
President Kwasniewski, President Komorowski, Ambassador Koźmiński, it is you that we celebrate on this occasion. Poland is safe and has become an integral part of our shared security because you knew the value of joining the most powerful collective defense organization in history.
Statesmen, diplomats and esteemed audience members, you all played a role and will still play to this day. The solemn obligation that NATO members do when they join the alliance doesn’t just end when you are admitted. It requires constant work and demands great sacrifice.
President Biden knew that Poland was ready for that promise. As a senator, he led the fight for Poland’s admission to NATO. Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, too.
His greatest diplomatic achievement was helping to bring Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary into NATO. Secretary Albright passed away a few months ago. But her legacy lives on through the alliance she modernized and expanded.
When Poland joined NATO more than two decades ago, the challenges we faced were different. NATO has had to evolve to face the threats of the 21st century. Poland has been at the forefront of these changes.
In 2016, during NATO’s Warsaw Summit, member countries responded to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea by sending four multinational combat battalions to Poland and the three Baltic States. This represented a shift from “assurance” to “deterrence and defense” and some of the biggest developments for NATO since the end of the Cold War.
And when Russia began its brutal, full-scale attack on Ukraine in February, Poland, the US and individual member countries responded immediately by providing support that fueled Ukraine’s latest attack on Russian forces.
Last week, the Ukrainians retook more than 6,000 square kilometers from Russian control in September. Putin’s plan is failing.
Although we have done so much to support Ukraine, it is Poland that has really grown so far. Poland’s rapid mobilization inspired the world.
What Poland and its people did is similar to the United States’ response to the attack on Pearl Harbor or the Cold War-era space race. It is reminiscent of the unstoppable spirit of the brave Poles during the Warsaw Uprising and Solidarity movement.
When millions of people crossed the Polish borders, you welcomed the refugees with open arms. You have given hope and stability to Ukrainian families who have lost everything.
This is a very important point, so I want to convey it in Polish language:
And it is Poland that continues to help the United States and our allies and partners get the supplies Ukraine needs.
Poland also sent $1.8 billion in military aid to Ukraine. You donated a lot of tanks. You sent artillery and ammunition.
Poland has become a military, economic and humanitarian center for Ukraine.
At the same time, Poland has been busy reinforcing its high-speed defense modernization program. Billions of dollars are being spent to buy reliable US military equipment, Abrams tanks, Patriots, HIMARS, F-35s and the latest announcement – nearly 100 Apache helicopters.
If Russian tanks threaten an inch of NATO territory, these Apache helicopters will stop them. Apache helicopters are an armored vehicle’s worst nightmare. They are tank killers.
This equipment ensures that American, Polish and NATO troops can unite and train together. It allows our soldiers to work as one.
Furthering this cooperation is the establishment of a permanent US Forward Command headquarters in Poznan, now aptly named “Camp Kosciuszko”. The first for the United States in Poland. The first for us in Central Europe.
This is permanent: it is a historic tectonic shift. The V Corps will coordinate all of our ground forces in Europe, assembling any and all capabilities needed to defend Poland and our NATO allies.
Furthermore, at the NATO Summit in Madrid, President Biden announced further commitments to strengthen European security. This includes the establishment of an Army support headquarters in Poznan, along with a field support battalion in Powidz, which will maintain equipment for the US Armored Brigade Combat Team. All here in Polish lands permanently.
And that’s not all. Together we are building more than 100 military infrastructure projects in Poland. They support US troops circling Poland, provide additional locations to conduct joint training exercises, and allow the US and NATO to deploy forces even more quickly to Poland in the event of a crisis.
Poland has also shown great vision in working to ensure its energy security. The United States is poised to be a reliable supplier of civilian nuclear energy. In selecting US technology, Poland would make another important strategic decision to protect its energy security for the next century.
I say all this because of the message it sends – that we are together and ready for anything. When it comes to helping Ukraine defend itself, when it comes to ensuring that there is significant pressure on Russia to end this aggression, we are united. It is our greatest strength.
And the anchor of it all – those NATO membership negotiations twenty-five years ago.
I lived here before Poland was a member of NATO. In the early 1990s, I was a Fulbright Scholar in Warsaw. I remember how things were back then, the restlessness. That has changed. Poland is a case study for the benefits of NATO expansion.
Poland is not anxious or nervous. Poland is confident and secure because of NATO. Because we are together. An attack on one is an attack on all of us. Quite simply, we have each other’s backs.
And now Finland and Sweden will have the same guarantees. I lived in Stockholm for four years, where I had the honor of serving as the US Ambassador to Sweden. What a historic change! The fact that two traditionally non-aligned countries made the decision to join NATO speaks to the power of collective defense.
In a near-unanimous vote, the Polish Sejm supported the expansion of NATO to include Finland and Sweden. The US Senate also overwhelmingly approved Finland and Sweden’s membership of NATO. Bipartisan support, in a day when disagreements and differences can be found in all directions of politics, shows that NATO is something we can all agree on.
And just think – Putin thought he would divide us, instead we were never more united. NATO is the cornerstone of everything. This brings to life the words President Harry Truman shared in 1949, when the organization was founded. He hoped that NATO would “create a shield against aggression”. And has. Because for NATO, success is not measured by wars won, but by wars that are avoided and stifled.
I can confidently say that in the twenty-two years that Poland has been a full member, you have fulfilled your obligations and some. It is no longer about Poland proving that it belongs to NATO, but rather that NATO would not be what it is without you.
NATO and Poland need each other. The United States of America and Poland need each other. I’m working hard every day to make sure we get closer and closer.
By US Mission Poland | September 21, 2022 | Topics: Ambassador, Events, News