A top Russian general said Friday that Poland's agreement to accept a U.S. missile defense battery exposes ex-communist nation to attack, possibly by nuclear weapons, the Interfax news agency reported.
The statement by Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn is the strongest threat that Russia has issued against the plans to put missile defense elements in former Soviet satellite nations.
Poland and the United States on Thursday signed a deal for Poland to accept a missile interceptor base as part of a system the United States says is aimed at blocking attacks by rogue nations. Moscow, however, feels it is aimed at Russia's missile force.
"Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike — 100 percent," Nogovitsyn, the deputy chief of staff, was quoted as saying.
Part of this is typically boorish Russian behavior and speaks to nothing but the lack of education and breeding of the men Putin has around him but who nonetheless are, unfortunately, making a lot of decisions for the rest of the world.
Part of this is brought on by the fact that Poland, unlike Old Europe, has gone out of its way to show solidarity with Georgia. Perhaps a couple of generations with the Russian bootheel on your neck gives you an appreciation for freedom that many Europeans and, sadly, a disturbing number of self-avowed American conservatives just don't grasp.
For "conservatives" who don't get it, let me spell it out. Russian foreign policy has remained essentially unchanged since the reign of Peter the Great. Russia's aims are to reconstitute the old USSR and reassert itself to what it sees as its rightful place among nations. Never mind that it is a crippled kleptocracy that is in the final stages of an irreversible demographic meltdown. Its chosen weapon is the sizeable real (in the Ukraine and Baltic States) and fake (in Georgia and Moldavia) population of Russian citizens and its alleged concern for their welfare.
If the aggression in Georgia is allowed to stand, Ukraine knows it will be next. Then Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.
Does this matter to us?
I spend a substantial portion of my youth in places I didn't want to be keeping people I didn't necessarily like on my side of the Iron Curtain. One think conservatives had in common was a belief that the captive nations of Europe should go free. It was conservatives who labored to bring down the Iron Curtain.
What has struck me since 2003 is the lack of commitment among large swaths of self-avowed "real conservatives" to the idea that protecting free markets and free peoples abroad is important to them and to our nation.
We are at a turning point in the history of Europe and perhaps of our own. We can either acquiesce to the ongoing Russian attempt to reduce the independent states on its borders to modern day satrapies and usher in a new Cold War. Or we can firmly, forcefully, and I think peacefully, make the cost of this behavior higher than Russia will be willing to pay.