Negotiators have finally hammered out a deal to base U.S. interceptor missiles in Poland. After a deal was reached to base a radar system in the Czech Republic in July, the Poles were the final holdout for America's controversial missile shield, but the agreement was delayed by the Polish demands for Patriot missiles. According to Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, that demand has been met.
This has been in the works for nearly 18 months and was sure to be resolved eventually, but the timing of this announcement makes it hard not to wonder if events in the Caucasus didn't help to move things along. Poland, having seen what can happen to other wayward countries on Russia's periphery, is sure to welcome an American troop presence while the United States, which hasn't done much to help its ally Georgia, gets to demonstrate that it still has friends in the former Eastern bloc.
Russia would appear to have few options for punishing Poland, a member of both the EU and NATO with a far larger military and economy than Georgia, but after last week it would be foolish to underestimate what Vladimir Putin can accomplish with limited military and political resources.
UPDATE: Killer quote from Tusk:
Poland and the Poles do not want to be in alliances in which assistance comes at some point later - it is no good when assistance comes to dead people. Poland wants to be in alliances where assistance comes in the very first hours of - knock on wood - any possible conflict."
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