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May 27, 2024

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Davos. “NATO and the Future of Deterrence and Defense on Europe’s Eastern Front”

18 stycznia 2024

Excellencies, Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad that we are meeting this year, once again, in the Three Seas Hub, to discuss major security challenges facing NATO’s Eastern flank.

The Vilnius Summit is over, and soon we will attend another, anniversary one, in Washington D.C. It is a good moment to reflect on how NATO should adapt to the current situation in order to ensure security and peace to our citizens.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The contemporary security architecture, established after the Second World War, and significantly transformed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is changing once again. The security model created by us, and based on the UN Charter, and on the provisions enshrined in the final act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe is squandered – and we have to be clear about that.

Despite the fact that most of our countries have been building and maintaining friendly relations with their neighbours, and making joint efforts to resolve any emerging crises or conflicts, there were also those for whom the principles of respect for sovereignty and equality of states or the inviolability of the borders are just void provisions. Provisions which they additionally decided to erase by force.

Today – after nearly two years of Russian full–scale aggression against Ukraine – only the foolish or naive fail to see the real threat that is the Russian Federation and its imperial policy.

Moscow`s plans do not end in Ukraine. The aggression carried out by Russia for so many months demonstrates that Russia has the capabilities to rebuild its military potential up to a level which poses a real threat to the Alliance. And especially to its members on the Eastern flank.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

NATO has to clearly demonstrate its strength. Today collective defense, provided for in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, has to stand for reliability, immediate action, strength and unity.

Potential aggressors, including especially Russia, can have no doubts that an attack on NATO countries has no chance of success.  In order to achieve that, we must urgently focus on a few key issues.

First of all, it will require the maintenance of a permanent and strong Allied presence, in particular in the Eastern–flank countries.

Secondly, the Alliance should keep updating its defense plans, possess the assigned forces prepared to execute such plans, APS facilities in strategically important locations as well as the command structure adapted to challenges resulting from large and high–intensity land operations.

Thirdly, we should construct robust logistics and infrastructure, including fuel supply system for the troops on the Eastern flank.  Major military bases in Central Europe should be connected by a network of allied pipelines, just like the major military bases in Western Europe.

Fourthly, one should develop and integrate a joint missile defense system. Today Russian missiles pose a threat not only for Ukraine. Poland knows it very well since as a frontline state we have experienced this kind of threat directly.

There is a long list of tasks facing NATO. Every member of the Alliance should also remember to fulfill their duties – ensuring the relevant level of defense spending and developing own national capabilities.

All of this will have its price but if we fail to act in this way, the Allied Defense and Deterrence Policy will not save us from the „Russkiy mir”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I can assure you that Poland will actively contribute to the implementation of Allied Deterrence and Defense. We are in the process of an unprecedented modernization of our Armed Forces: we are purchasing new combat aircraft, tanks, missile defense equipment, artillery systems, and many other military capabilities. We are increasing the size of our Armed Forces and  re–opening military bases in the Eastern part of the country.

We are also present in the territories of our Allies. Our troops are deployed today in Latvia and Romania, among others. We regularly police air space of the Baltic States and Slovakia.

In 2023 we allocated around 4% of GDP for defense. It seems to be much. But the security of our citizens is most important. Unless all of us enhance our capabilities and allocate at least 2% of GDP for defense, the Allied Deterrence and Defense Policy will not fulfill its role. And without it, the costs will be much higher –  for the Eastern flank in particular, but also for NATO as a whole.

Thank you and I wish you an interesting discussion.

President of the Republic of Poland