As the Russia-Ukraine war grinds on, Poland is becoming an increasingly valuable NATO member.Firmly on Kyiv’s side, the central European nation shares borders with Ukraine, Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, and Belarus, and is a bulwark against Moscow’s aggression on the NATO alliance’s eastern flank.
Along with the United States, United Kingdom and Baltic states, Warsaw supports policies that aim to sanction and punish Moscow for its devastating war on Ukraine.
“Poland is at the tip of NATO’s spear against Russia at this juncture,” Theodore Karasik, a fellow for Russian and Middle Eastern Affairs at the Jamestown Foundation, told Al Jazeera.
“With Poland bordering on the Kaliningrad oblast, there is increasing concern about how this geography will play out as Russia continues its aggressive attempts to expand its ‘sovereignty,’” he said.
“As the NATO build-up against Russia continues, the geography of the Baltic Sea and outlets from these countries via ports will be contested in the future given current trend lines.”
Kaliningrad, a territory few could point to on a map until recently, attracted international attention in June when Lithuania banned the transit of sanctioned goods through its land. Russia has since threatened retaliatory measures.
Before the Ukraine war, Poland, having long sought increased security guarantees from more powerful NATO members, lamented what it saw as insufficient military support from the alliance.
In 2018, Warsaw proposed establishing a grand US-Polish military base – to be called “Fort Trump” after former …