Warsaw denies asking for U.S. troops to defend Poland
Warsaw denied on Friday Russian media reports that Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski asked Washington to deploy U.S. troops to protect Poland from potential attacks from Russia, RIA Novosti reported.
On Thursday, the Russian Interfax news agency quoted Sikorski as saying Poland had requesting the United States and NATO to deploy troops in Central Europe. His comments came after media reports claimed Russia and Belarus had simulated nuclear strikes on Poland during massive war games in September.
"In this case we seem to be dealing with a deliberate manipulation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Piotr Paszkowski said.
The Polish diplomat suggested rewinding a video recording of Sikorski's comments.
Speaking at a conference on Central Europe at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Sikorsky said Germany felt secure against the threat of a Warsaw Pact invasion during the Cold War not because of NATO's mutual defense clause, but because there were 300,000 U.S. soldiers on its territory.
He said Poland had six U.S. service personnel on its territory, and noted that Russia and Belarus recently held large-scale military exercises near the Polish border.
Paszkowski demanded a "swift and clear" apology from the news agency, saying its reports provoked what he described as "far-reaching reactions" in Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday expressed surprise that his Polish counterpart would make such a statement.
"If he did say that, I am astonished, as we have discussed in detail European security problems that need to be tackled," he said, referring to Russia's position on U.S. missile defense plans for Europe and a new European security treaty.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Friday that if confirmed Poland's call for U.S. protection from Russia would run counter to Warsaw's intentions to build constructive relations with Moscow.
President Barack Obama recently scrapped plans for Poland and the Czech Republic to host missile shield elements to counter possible strikes from Iran. The plans were fiercely opposed by Moscow as a security threat.
Poland said it was willing to take part in a reviewed missile defense program, under which the U.S. would deploy sea-based interceptors first and then land-based defenses.