WARSAW—Before Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine this February, Vladimir Putin demanded that NATO troops withdraw from Poland and the Baltic states. This extortion attempt has gone as well as the broader invasion: NATO states responded by rushing troops and equipment eastward while making major military spending commitments.
“We understand our geostrategic location,” Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak, chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, said at the Warsaw Security Forum this week. “We have no time and no space. We are frontline.”
Poland, a country of 38 million, shares borders with Russia and the Russian vassal Belarus, along with Ukraine. The former Soviet satellite state, which joined NATO in 1999, serves as a staging area for Western support to Kyiv. Poland also houses some 2 million Ukrainian refugees.
Polish officials, along with their Baltic neighbors, have long argued that Russia’s imperial ambitions extend far beyond Ukraine. For years many Western European leaders dismissed such warnings as alarmist. The invasion changed everything.