Adrian Kubicki, consul general for the Polish Consulate in New York City, hailed President Joe Biden’s visit to Poland on Monday as an important show of unity for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a year after Russia invaded Poland’s neighbor, Ukraine.
Kubicki told NTD that Biden’s visit affirms the fact that NATO “remains united and will continue its support to Ukraine until the last of the Russian soldiers leave Ukraine.”
In a speech in Warsaw on Tuesday, Biden referred to Poland as “our great all[y]” and said, “Our support for Ukraine will not waver.”
Kubicki said Biden’s visit to Poland has added symbolic value because Poland has been at the forefront of providing military aid to Ukraine. Kubicki also touted Biden’s plans to meet with the Bucharest Nine countries, which include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. The Bucharest Nine, or B9 countries, were previously part of either the former Soviet Union or the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact, but now represent the eastern edge of the NATO alliance.
The Polish diplomat said Biden’s meeting with the B9 countries will allow them to discuss “some of the measures that can be taken in order to enhance the security of our region of the eastern flank of NATO.”
Time to Strengthen NATO’s Eastern Flank
Kubicki said he believes Russia is trying to absorb neighboring Belarus and reintegrate former Soviet Union member states into a new structure and “maybe even go beyond that.”
“Eventually [Russian President Vladimir Putin] will become a direct threat also to NATO countries, to Poland to Baltic countries,” Kubicki said.
For now, the Polish diplomat believes the Russian invasion of Ukraine has revealed the country’s military shortcomings.
“We have this period of time, first of all, to support Ukraine with the new weaponry, with Western weaponry, to make sure that they are equipped well to push back Russian invaders, and also to enhance our security,” Kubicki said. “NATO has to focus on enhancing security of its own members, above all the members of the eastern flank of NATO.”
Russia Still Poses Threat
While he assessed that Russia has struggled in Ukraine, Kubicki also predicted that Russia could continue to fight in Ukraine for years to come.
“Russia is never as strong as we assume, but also never as weak as we assume,” Kubicki said. “It’s a large organism, kind of ready, prepared to survive for a long period of time even without progress or visible actions. So this is something that we have to take into consideration.”
In another recent interview with NTD, Tom Lynch, a distinguished research fellow at the National Defense University, estimated that Russia has committed about 90 to 95 percent of its military capabilities in Ukraine.
Lynch and other international observers have been anticipating a renewed Russian offensive in Ukraine. Lynch predicted Russian forces would seek to preserve territorial gains in eastern Ukraine and a land bridge connecting the Crimean peninsula to the Ukrainian mainland.
“I think that the Russians are going to make an earnest effort here to try to go and at least salvage occupation,” Lynch said.
Lynch said he believes a renewed Russian offensive in Ukraine is intended to dissuade western countries from their continued support for Ukraine.
“[Putin’s] hopeful that yet another massive venture like the one we think we’re seeing start to play out with hundreds of thousands of Russian troops again, in Ukraine, that that continuation will cause fatigue in the West, we will tire of this,” Lynch said.
Russia has also been receiving military equipment from some of its allies. Russia has appeared to use Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones to strike targets throughout Ukraine in recent months. The United States has assessed North Korea has also been supplying missiles and rockets to the Wagner Group, a mercenary force fighting on behalf of Russia.
So far, China has not appeared to provide direct military support for Russia, but Lynch said “we’re going to have to watch that going forward.”
“There’s a report that Mr. Putin and [Chinese leader Xi Jinping] are going to meet here in the next several days. And we’ll see how this continues to play out,” Lynch added.
Kubicki said he’s hopeful that China does not choose to become more closely involved in Russia’s war efforts.
“China is something that might change the dynamics of this war,” the diplomat said. “And obviously, this is something that we still hope is not going to happen.”