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Documentary says previous Polish gov't consulted Russia on US missile defence deal

27.06.2023 18:00
A new documentary claims that Poland’s previous centrist government in 2008 consulted Russia as “a key voice” about a planned Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) agreement with the United States that would have seen a US missile-defence facility stationed in Poland, according to a report.
The Kremlin complex in Moscow, Russia.
The Kremlin complex in Moscow, Russia.A.Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Entitled Reset, the docu-film is currently being aired over several episodes on Polish state television, according to public broadcaster Polish Radio’s polskieradio24.pl website.

State broadcaster TVP says Reset explores as-yet unpublished Polish and foreign government documents to examine Poland’s relations with Russia between 2007 and 2015, when the centrist government of the Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) was in power in Warsaw.

Part three of the documentary, broadcast this week, shows how “for the PO-PSL government, it was Russia, not the United States, that was a ‘key voice’ when it came to plans to station a US missile-defence facility in Poland,” polskieradio24.pl reported.

In part two of Reset, PO leader Donald Tusk, who became prime minister in late 2007, is heard saying: “We are seeking dialogue with Russia the way Russia is.”

A month after taking over as prime minister, "Tusk headed to Berlin and shortly thereafter to Moscow,” the documentary says.

On February 8, 2008, Tusk held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin, according to the tvp.info website.

The website said Polish foreign ministry documents unearthed by the makers of Reset show that the PO-PSL government “sought to ensure that Russia and the European Union made a positive political assessment of Tusk’s visit” to Moscow.

TVP Info also quoted then-Polish lower-house Speaker Radosław Sikorski as saying in October 2014 that Putin “sought to get Poland to participate in a partition of Ukraine,” according to polskieradio24.pl.

Sikorski, a senior PO politician, told a US magazine at the time that Putin “put forward such a proposal” during his talks with Tusk at the Kremlin in 2008, according to tvp.info.

According to the Reset documentary, plans for a US ballistic missile defence (BMD) interceptor facility in Poland were highly advanced when the PO-PSL government came to power, polskieradio24.pl reported.

Talks on the issue were earlier carried out by Poland's previous conservative government led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party and by the Polish president at the time, Lech Kaczyński, with the administration of then US President George W. Bush, according to polskieradio24.pl.

However, following Tusk’s February 2008 visit to Moscow, the new centrist government in Warsaw "began to create problems and list additional conditions” that the United States "would have to fulfil to have its missile shield” deployed in Poland, Reset said.

During Tusk’s March 2008 visit to Washington, "President Bush expressed a willingness to swiftly settle all the remaining formalities,” but the new Polish prime minister suggested to the media that “the presence of the US missile shield and the US Army wouldn’t strengthen Poland’s security," polskieradio24.pl said.

According to Reset, a "declassified transcript of the Bush-Tusk talks" shows that Tusk’s conversation with Putin a month earlier "had a key influence" on his stance regarding the stationing of the US missile shield in Poland.

In the transcript, Tusk is quoted as saying at the White House: "When I was in Russia, I achieved an unfreezing of relations. That’s what we wanted. It cost something; it was not a very easy task.”

He added, according to the makers of Reset: “And everything was okay until we raised the subject of missile defence. Do you know what Putin said? Suddenly he became very restive, he looked into my eyes and said: ‘Fine, you want missile defence? Fine, but the next day I’ll direct my missiles with nukes at targets in Poland.”

Bush replied that Putin “is just trying to intimidate you,” but "Tusk wouldn’t listen,” according to polskieradio24.pl.

Government documents unearthed by the makers of the Reset documentary also show that Tusk sought to “delay decisions on the ballistic missile defence deal with the United States” in anticipation of the November 2008 presidential election in America, which was “bound to produce a new president” as Bush was completing his second term, polskieradio24.pl reported.

In September 2009, the next US president, Barack Obama, decided to scrap the plan to deploy a US missile defence facility in Poland, according to Reset.

Created by Michał Rachoń and Sławomir Cenckiewicz, the Reset documentary took a year to make and draws on 10,000 government documents, many of them never before released, as well as recordings and photographs, both from Poland and abroad, TVP said. 


Source: polskieradio24.pl, niezalezna.pl, wpolityce.pl