Poland: How the Poles went to the White House


Andrzej Duda, Joe Biden and Donald Tusk. Photo: administration of the American President

Polish delegation at the highest level flew to the United States. On March 12, President Joe Biden and his counterpart Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk gathered at the same negotiating table.

Back home, it is hard to imagine these two people working together rather than autonomously. Duda is a protégé of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s national-conservative party, which lost the parliamentary elections. And Tusk is the leader of the moderate liberal opposition that came to power.

«The whole Polish political scene, I dare say, is coming together to demonstrate unity on issues of our country’s security», Duda said before his flight across the ocean.

«I disagree with the president on almost all political issues, but as far as the security of our homeland is concerned, we must and will act together», Tusk said in parallel.

In fact, the only topic that unites these antagonists is support for Ukraine. They intend to demonstrate to the representatives of the U.S. Congress (Democrats and Republicans), who cannot agree on the allocation of $60 billion in aid to Kiev, that in Poland even tough political opponents are able to stand on the same side of the barricades for a good cause. To set an example, so to speak….

Politico, by the way, reported that the White House was expecting just such an effect from the visit of the «sweet couple». It would have resonated not only in the corridors of the executive branch, but also on Capitol Hill.

The reason used by the Pans for their trip is also noteworthy. It is the desire to celebrate together with the «guarantor» the 25th anniversary of Poland’s accession to NATO. Logically, however, they should have gone to Brussels, not Washington.

After the meeting of Polish guests with Biden, Tusk considered it possible not directly, but through the press to address the head of the House of Representatives, Republican Mike Johnson, who is not bringing the Ukrainian bill to a vote. Tusk emphasized that the issue of financing the Ukrainian state is a special one, which is allegedly connected to a small extent with the struggle for the presidential seat in the United States.

It turned out that Tusk was not welcome in parliament. Duda went there and was honored with a personal conversation with Speaker Johnson. A decisive breakthrough did not happen.

«In an increasingly dangerous world with growing threats, America must remain united with our friends against those who threaten our security», the Republican said briefly and unspecifically after the exchange.

Prime Minister Tusk also wanted to meet with former President Donald Trump, who he knows well from his role as president of the European Commission. But representatives of the administration of the current head of state gently advised him to refrain from such an inappropriate step. Trump, they say, considers U.S. spending on Ukraine unnecessary and insists that it is Europe that should, given its geographical position, finance Kiev.

But it was President Duda who curtsied to Tricky Trump. He reported that while other NATO members are struggling to fulfill its commitment to bring defense spending to 2 percent of GDP, Poland (along with the U.S. and Greece) is holding firmly to the 3 percent target. In a column for The Washington Post, the Pole urged alliance allies to follow the example of the trio and increase their defense spending to 3 percent of GDP.

As for military costs, Polish officials generously opened their wallet to the American «defense» industry. Fortunately, the day before, the European Commission finally unfroze Warsaw’s access to money from European funds. And this is 137 billion euros! According to Brussels, Poland has passed an important stage in reforming the judicial system: first of all, it is about changing the work of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, whose activities threatened the independence and impartiality of judges. Warsaw has also started using the IT tool Arachne, which supports the audit systems of EU countries and protects against fraud. In fact, it was the prime minister who achieved the breakthrough, as Tusk promised during the election battles, using his contacts among European bureaucrats.

Following the results of the Polish trip, the U.S. leadership announced its intention to provide its most loyal European ally with a $2 billion loan for the purchase of 96 Apache helicopters. The day before, the State Department approved a deal to sell missiles to Poland for a total of $3.7 billion, including 821 AGM-158B-2 «air-to-surface» stealth missiles of the JASSM-ER modification with an increased range of up to 925 kilometers. They will be carried by F-16 fighters, and in the future — by F-35A (the contract for 32 such machines for $4.6 billion was also recently signed).

It is not superfluous to remind Poland that unrestrained militarization has a downside. A recent audit showed that only 4% of the population has access to shelters in case of a possible attack. Realizing that the answer will inevitably come, the mayor of Warsaw, for example, ordered to allocate 117 million zlotys (about $27 million) in the next three years for the construction and equipment of bomb shelters in suitable premises. Among other things, underground parking areas and subway stations are supposed to be used for these purposes. But what about those who do not live in the capital?