Interview with the Polish Ambassador


Piotr Opaliński – Poland Ambassador to Pakistan

 

Shamim Mahmood – a Pakistani Christian advocate/journalist – has submitted some interesting information on foreign relations between Pakistan and Poland derived from Ambassador Piotr A. Opalinski.

 

JRH 2/3/19

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Interview with the Polish Ambassador

 

By SHAMIM MAHMOOD

Sent 2/2/2019 11:43 PM

 

ISLAMABAD (Online) Mr. Piotr A. Opalinski, the Ambassador of Poland to Pakistan has said that Poland values its historical links with Pakistan and enjoys the multifaceted collaboration. Currently, the two countries are significantly developing their political, economic and defence cooperation. The current trade volume is reaching a half billion Euro and there are good prospects for the further growth of their bilateral trade. Peace and stability are the key for the development of the region. Poland supports the peace process in Afghanistan and acknowledges Pakistan’s efforts in facilitating the talks between the US and Taliban.

 

Talking to the ‘Online News Agency’ in an exclusive interview, the Polish Ambassador Mr. Piotr Opalinski said that the relations between Pakistan and Poland are ‘excellent and very cordial’. He pointed out both at the ongoing political dialogue as well as enhancement of economic cooperation, especially in the areas of energy and exploration of natural resources, in which Polish companies have been engaged in Pakistan since last 20 years. He said that Poland’s vast expertise and long tradition in coal mining, defence production, agriculture and food processing offered new opportunities for the mutually beneficial cooperation in these areas as well.

 

Ambassador said, that Poland supported the inclusion of Pakistan in the GSP Plus by the European Union (EU) to grant non-reciprocal preferential treatment to Pakistan’s exports. He emphasized that the geographical location of Poland in the exact centre of Europe made it very suitable to become a hub for Pakistani products designed for the European market. The bilateral trade volume in 2018 raised to about 500 million Euro. The trade balance is in favour of Pakistani exports, mainly textiles (90 percent), with a relatively smaller share of leather products, sportswear, foodstuff and surgical instruments.

 

Ambassador Opalinski also said, in the area of development cooperation Poland was directly working with Pakistani partners – local organisations capable of a very efficient implementation of the projects. Some of the best examples of educational projects supported i.e. by the Polish Embassy were the primary schools in Kaghan Valley and Bari Imam area of Islamabad. They are providing quality education, counselling and medical care for the children.

 

Answering a question about visa policy, the Ambassador said it was based on the common Schengen Visa Code, as Poland, being one of 26 Schengen Member States, issues the visas allowing for a border-free movement of travellers in the whole area in all categories of travels – businessmen, tourists, students etc. The available statistics indicate that the number of visitors from Pakistan to Poland is gradually increasing.

 

Talking about the regional and international situation, the Ambassador appreciated Pakistan’s role in the Afghan peace process and its efforts in facilitating the talks between the US leadership and Taliban. Poland wholeheartedly supports peaceful resolution of the protracted conflict in Afghanistan, to the benefit, stability and development of the whole region.

 

Recollecting his very good personal experiences of nearly ten years of diplomatic service in Pakistan (first tenure as Deputy Head of Mission and now as Ambassador) Mr. Piotr Opalinski said the Polish-Pakistani friendship, transcending through different times and geographical distance was deeply-rooted in history and time-tested. He referred to the memories of Polish refugees who were granted shelter in Karachi during the World War and to the Polish pilots, who made a great contribution to the development of the PAF and civil aviation at the nascent stage of Pakistan’s statehood. He said, all this, and more fascinating stories of Polish-Pakistani personal relations of friendship, would be described in an excellent book “Freedom Under the Pakistani Sky” by Polish author Mrs. Anna T. Pietraszek [Polish Wikipedia], which is going to be launched in Pakistan later this year. Ends/

 

Be Blessed,

 

Shamim Mahmood

Diplomatic Correspondents

Online Int’l News Networks

Daily Jinnah [Urdu]

Daily Morning Mail

Journalist, Blogger and Social Reformer

+92-300-642-4560

[Blog Editor: Shamim also does Christian activism in Pakistan. It can be dangerous work in Islamic Pakistan. Please consider a contribution. The last I heard services like PayPal are not supported in Pakistan. The Western Union is a good way to send money which will transfer into Pakistan Rupee – https://www.westernunion.com/us/en/send-money.html; Shamim Mahmood; Islamabad; +92-300-642-4560.

+++++++++++

Blog Editor: This Facebook video should be of interest in relation to Polish refugees helping to build the Pakistan Air Force after WWII:

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Edited by John R. Houk

Source links are by the Editor.

 

© Shamim Mahmood

 

Poland Withstand Muslim Invasion Like Yesteryears


John R. Houk

© December 2, 2017

 

You don’t hear too much in the American Mainstream Media (MSM) about the European Union’s (EU) devastating problems with Muslim immigrants (legal and illegal) as well as next generation Muslims from those immigrants. What are those problems? Simply put: It is the crimes of theft, assault, rape, rioting and Islamic Supremacism in general.

 

The sad part of these problems is that the EU Multiculturalist elites are doing their best to cover-up most of the illegal excursions of Muslims causing problems. The cover-ups are a part of the Multiculturalist efforts to brainwash their original citizens to accept the Muslim migration with open arms. The Elites have been doing a pretty good snowball sell to their communities planting sympathy with the altruism of humanitarianism.

 

Yet, even with the cover-ups and brainwashing, EU citizens are catching on to the societal disruption Muslims are causing as the Western EU voters are electing more and more power to anti-immigrant politicians. Eastern EU voters so far have been very convincing as a constituency with Eastern European governments refusing Muslim immigrants entry have zero intention to conform to Western cultural norms and laws.

 

There are a number of Eastern European governments on the anti-immigration boat. Poland got my attention today from a post by Ann Corcoran on her Refugee Resettlement Watch blog. Corcoran is actually introducing an American Thinker short post about Poland refusing Muslim immigration to the political displeasure of Western EU power-elites especially in Germany.

 

Corcoran picked up on Poland’s historical legacy of King Jan (John in English) III Sobieski leading a multinational European force against Muslim invading Ottoman Turks that had made it to Vienna (now in Austria). The Ottomans were about to breach Vienna’s walls when the multinational force came to save the day beating back the Muslim invaders in 1683 A.D. (Anno Domini – in the year of the Lord):

 

John III Sobieski (PolishJan III SobieskiLithuanianJonas III SobieskisLatinIoannes III Sobiscius; 17 August 1629 – 17 June 1696), was King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1674 until his death, and one of the most notable monarchs of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.

 

Sobieski’s military skill, demonstrated in wars against the Ottoman Empire [Sobieski vs Ottomans], contributed to his prowess as King of Poland. Sobieski’s 22-year reign marked a period of the Commonwealth’s stabilization, much needed after the turmoil of the Deluge and the Khmelnytsky Uprising.[1] Popular among his subjects, he was an able military commander, most famous for his victory over the Turks at the 1683 Battle of Vienna.[2] After his victories over them, the Ottomans called him the “Lion of Lechistan“; and the Pope hailed him as the savior of Christendom.[3] (John III Sobieski; Wikipedia; last edited on 11/19/17 12:33)

 

And thus, the moral of the story is Poland was responsible for protecting Europe’s Christian heritage against invading Muslims in the past and has no intention of anti-Christian/anti-Western Muslims at this present time.

 

This cross post will use Corcoran’s intro then I’ll go strait to the American Thinker short article.

 

JRH 12/2/17

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The Poles remember their history, saved Europe from Muslim horde in 1683….

 

Posted by Ann Corcoran

December 1, 2017

Refugee Resettlement Watch

 

Sobieski’s Winged Hussars: “the badass Polish King Jan Sobieski led the single hugest and most balls-out cavalry charge in history.” http://www.badassoftheweek.com/hussars.html

 

….so they see very clearly their job today!

 

Longtime readers know all about the Polish King Jan Sobieski and the battle at the Gates of Vienna in 1683, but we get new readers every day and I need to continue to educate newbies.

 

We have an extensive archive on the ‘Invasion of Europe’ (mostly the modern day invasion), but it is important to repeat that Poland has a really good reason for resisting the migrants that both the EU and Mama Merkel would like to foist on the country.

 

Here it is, mentioned again in an article about Germany’s political difficulties at the moment, at America Thinker.

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For Eastern Europe, Germany Is the Trouble

 

By Alex Alexiev

December 1, 2017

American Thinker

 

The inability of Angela Merkel and her putative partners to form a government has given rise to persistent calls, including from the chancellor herself, that what Europe needs now is a strong Germany. In fact, it is Germany’s unquestioned strength and willingness to throw its weight around that are to blame for much of Eastern Europe’s unhappiness with the European Union at the moment. A case in point is the growing rift between Berlin and its eastern EU neighbors on some of the issues discussed by Merkel and her potential government partners.

 

Take for instance Merkel’s position claiming that the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline is simply a commercial project. To most of her eastern neighbors, this is nothing if not crass German hypocrisy designed to further German business, while facilitating  the monopolistic endeavors of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s energy monopoly, Gazprom, at the expense of Eastern Europe. Or the willingness of Germany’s Free Democrats to give Russia a pass on Crimean annexation, which suspiciously sounded like an apologia of the old “might is right” axiom. Or the asinine suggestion of the Greens to settle entire Syrian villages in Eastern Europe to make the migrants feel more comfortable and the locals less so.

 

Beyond these specific disagreements, there are fundamental, perhaps irreconcilable, differences between Eastern Europe and Germany on at least two issues – defense policy and migration. Regarding the former, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, Berlin seems to have decided that there would never be another war in Europe and it stopped spending money on defense. As a result, in a short time the German military was transformed from being the second most powerful in NATO to a weakling spending barely 1.2% of GDP on defense instead of the 2% agreed minimum. Its personnel collapsed nearly four-fold (600,000 to 177,000) and it has glaring equipment shortfalls that make its functioning as an integral force very doubtful. According to Jane’s, close to half of its Leopard 2 tanks (95 of 244) are not combat ready, and neither are 28 of its 75 Tornado combat aircraft, nor are 41 of its 79 Eurofighters, nor are four out of ten Patriot air-defense systems.

 

More troublesome than these capability issues is Germany’s unwillingness to determine where the threat to Europe may be coming from. Unlike Eastern Europe, which invariably sees Russia as a clear and present danger, Berlin appears not to be sure. During the recent election campaign, Merkel’s socialist coalition partners called for disarmament and the withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Germany, in the face of blatant Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere. This fundamental divergence in threat perceptions also results in stark differences in attitudes toward defense spending, the United States and NATO priorities. There is a palpable and growing fault line between East and West Europe on defense matters that does not bode well for NATO.

 

There is also a huge gulf in attitudes toward migration. Western Europeans cite the easterners’s refusal to take any migrants as a sign of lack of solidarity, populist prejudice and perhaps racism.  The easterners respond that nobody asked their views on opening the borders and point out the failure of western societies to integrate the migrants as a reason to not rush into this experiment. They point out that Muslims that have lived for decades in Europe, yet nonetheless voted for the Islamist dictator Erdogan in much greater numbers than their fellow Turks at home. There are also spiking numbers of migrant crimes and sexual assaults.

 

here is another powerful reason for Eastern Europe’s reluctance to accept Muslim refugees that is seldom discussed, though it is important and it has to do with the region’s historical experience with Muslims. Very few in Western Europe are aware of it, but every child in Poland knows that Jan Sobieski saved Europe and Christendom from the Ottomans at Vienna in 1683. They also know that much of Eastern Europe, including the Balkans, Hungary, Podolia in Poland, Wallachia and Moldavia were for centuries under the Ottomans and subject to infidel taxes, rapacious military levies, the boy tribute, and the depredations of the slave raiders. It was not a happy experience and many historians trace the backwardness of Eastern Europe compared to the rest of it to its unfortunate experience with Muslim obscurantism. Not an experience that is easily forgotten.

 

Alex Alexiev  is chairman of the Center for Balkan and Black Sea Studies (cbbss.org) and editor of bulgariaanalytica.org. He tweets on national security at twitter.com/alexieff and could be reached at alexievalex4@gmail.com.

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Poland Withstand Muslim Invasion Like Yesteryears

John R. Houk

© December 2, 2017

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The Poles remember their history, saved Europe from Muslim horde in 1683….

 

About RRW

 

Update[d] April 26, 2015:

 

A few months ago A year ago  Two Three years ago, Six years Seven Eight years ago it came to our attention in Washington County MD that a non-profit group (Virginia Council of Churches) had been bringing refugees into the city of Hagerstown (county seat) for a couple of years. Some problems arose and citizens started to take an interest and ask questions about how this federal program works. Our local paper had no interest in finding the facts, so we decided to find them ourselves.

 

One of the many startling things we found out about this very quiet effort is that these non-profit groups bring to the US on average each year 15,000 (FY90-FY03) Muslim refugees from the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans, etc, almost completely funded by the US Government through grants and contracts to these non-government agencies. Of the 168 refugees brought to our county since 2004, 125 are Muslim. Although we all have sympathy for persecuted and suffering people there are real questions to be answered about the wisdom of this policy.

 

It turns out that there are hotbeds of this refugee resettlement controversy throughout the US.  We have identified some of those.   Because the issue is much more complicated than we initially realized, we have set up this online community organizing center at https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/.

 

READ THE REST

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For Eastern Europe, Germany Is the Trouble

 

© American Thinker 2017

 

About American Thinker

 

American Thinker is a daily internet publication devoted to the thoughtful exploration of issues of importance to Americans. Contributors are accomplished in fields beyond journalism and animated to write for the general public out of concern for the complex and morally significant questions on the national agenda.

 

There is no limit to the topics appearing on American Thinker. National security in all its dimensions — strategic, economic, diplomatic, and military — is emphasized. The right to exist and the survival of the State of Israel are of great importance to us. Business, science, technology, medicine, management, and economics in their practical and ethical dimensions are also emphasized, as is the state of American culture.

 

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Resisting Islamic Cultural Intrusion


John R. Houk

© October 13, 2017

 

Battle of Lepanto 1571

 

In an email alert today (10/13/17), Bill Warner – prior to introducing a new expose Islam video (What I Admire about Islam) – writes about how the Polish collective stood against EU Multiculturalism with a massive rosary prayer pertaining resisting more Muslim migrants by highlighting the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Lepanto is one of those historic battles against Ottoman Turkish invasions that helped preserve Western culture from the brutality of Islamic conquest.

 

The National Review on October 7 – the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto – gives a brief history lesson on how brutal Muslim imperialists made numerous attempts to subjugate the last bastion of Christianity that looks at momentous Islamic setbacks such as Charles Martel repulsing a then considered superior Muslim force at the Battle of Tours/Poitiers in 732 AD, then some Muslim vicious victories, another spectacular Christian victory at the Battle of Vienna in 1683 under the leadership of Polish King Jan (John) III Sobieski and then adding more detail to the battle of Lepanto in 1571.

 

Between victories at Vienna and Lepanto, Muslim military began to wane and recede back Muslim entrenched populations already brutally converted to Islam.

 

I admire Polish resistance in this present time to defy European Union Multiculturalism and prevent further Muslim twisting of Western/Christian culture.

 

Below is the Bill Warner intro on Polish activism that has a link to a Gateway Pundit report on Polish resistance to Leftist Multiculturalism and Islamic cultural infusion.

 

JRH 10/13/17

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Battles Have Consequences

 

By Bill Warner

Sent 10/13/2017 7:45 AM

Excerpt Political Islam Alert

 

There comes a time in life when a person must stand for something or stand for nothing.  The Polish people know what Islamic migration would do to their country, and this acknowledgement was the driver for their standing up and praying en mass in commemoration of the Battle of Lepanto. In this naval battle of 1571, the outnumbered Europeans fought and won against the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Their show of spirit and deep devotion to their religious beliefs and the ideals of Western Civilization is to be commended. I hope they continue to stay strong in their stance.
If only Americans knew their own country’s history and would commemorate defeating the Muslim Barbary States pirates who took the jizya from ships sailing the Mediterranean in the early 19th century, I would be a happy man.

 

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HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS Gather To Pray Rosary Along Poland’s Borders For Defense Against Secularism, Islam

 

 

Polish PM, Beata Szydło Tweets Support For Event Marking Feast of Our Lady of The Rosary, Commemorating Historic Victory That Saved Europe from Ottoman Turks in 1571

 

By Damien Cowley

October 9, 2017

Gateway Pundit

 

Hundreds of thousands of Poles took part in a massive prayer vigil Saturday, forming a human chain which spanned the length of the nation’s 2,200-mile border – through forested wilderness and snowy mountain crossings, along river banks and coastal beaches. Fishing trawlers and sailing boats joined the event on open water whilst airport chapels were said to be overflowing.

 

The ‘Różaniec do grana’’, or ‘’Rosary to the Borders’’ event was deliberately planned to coincide with the liturgical feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7th), which commemorates the landmark 1571 Battle of Lepanto in which outnumbered European forces under Pope Pius V won a decisive naval battle against the Ottoman Turks. The victory, credited with saving Europe from Islamic expansion, was attributed to the praying of the rosary by beleaguered Christian forces.

 

Impressive crowds gathered for Mass Saturday morning, followed by processions to 4,000 border locations, each selected to be several hundred yards from the next so as to encircle the entire Polish territory in a ‘’chain of prayer.’’

 

In Catholic tradition, the rosary has long since been considered a spiritual weapon against evil, and a means of conversion to Christ by way of his mother, Mary.

 

Social media accounts were soon flooded with images of the unusual event, which organizers hope will have mobilized at least one million of Poland’s predominantly Catholic population of 38 million.

 

Archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski asked participants to pray “for other European nations to make them understand the necessity of returning to their Christian roots in order that Europe remains Europe.”

 

Polish Prime Minister, Beata Szydło, a devout Catholic and mother of a recently ordained priest, tweeted an image of her own rosary beads and a greeting in support of those taking part.

 

Beata Szydło tweet the Rosary

 

In certain cases, Polish citizens were joined in prayer by participants across the border; Poland has land borders with Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia (Kaliningrad).

 

The popularity of the event reflects the level of Christian faith still found in Poland along with a general sense of foreboding over what many Poles see as an attack on their values coming from a European Union accelerating into chaos.

 

“Poland is in danger. We need to shield our families, our homes, our country from all kinds of threats, including the de-Christianization of our society, which the EU’s liberals want to impose on us,” one participant explained to the AFP, adding that Islam was again becoming a threat as in centuries past.

 

Organized by a group of lay Catholics, Solo Dios Basta (God Alone Is Enough), the project was the idea of young documentary film-maker, Maciej Bodasiński, and enjoyed the support of numerous actors, sports stars and media personalities.

 

Hands Praying with Rosary

 

Numerous Poles Holding Hands in Prayer
 

Rozaniec-do-Granit–w-Tatrach

 

14 More Photos of Polish Citizens in Various Locations in Solidarity Against Islamic Cultural Infusion

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Resisting Islamic Cultural Intrusion

John R. Houk

© October 13, 2017

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Battles Have Consequences

 

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Islam is a cultural, religious [sic] and political system. Only the political system is of interest to kafirs (non-Muslims) since it determines how we are defined and treated. The Islamic political system is contained in the Koran, the Hadith (the traditions of Mohammed) and his biography, the Sira.

 

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HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS Gather To Pray Rosary Along Poland’s Borders For Defense Against Secularism, Islam

 

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In late 2004 I started The Gateway Pundit blog after the presidential election. At that time I had my twin brother Joe and my buddy Chris as regular readers. A lot has changed since then.

 

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Borderlands: First Moves in Romania


Borderlands around Russia map

That which happens in Ukraine matters to America. George Friedman gives you the reasons why.

 

JRH 5/27/14

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Borderlands: First Moves in Romania

 

By George Friedman

MAY 27, 2014 – 03:02

STRATFOR

 

I arrived in Bucharest, Romania, the day after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will be here in a few weeks. The talk in Bucharest, not only among the leadership but also among the public, is about Ukraine. Concerns are palpable, and they are not only about the Russians. They are also about NATO, the European Union, the United States and whether they will all support Romania if it resists Russia. The other side of the equation, of course, is whether Romania will do the things it must do in order to make outside support effective. Biden left Romania with a sense that the United States is in the game. But this is not a region that trusts easily. The first step was easy. The rest become harder.

 

If this little Cold War becomes significant, there are two European countries that matter the most: Poland and Romania. Poland, which I visit next, stands between Germany and Russia on the long, flat North European plain. Its population is about 38 million people. Romania, to the south, standing behind the Prut River and bisected by the Carpathian Mountains, has a population of about 20 million. Of the roughly 82 million people along the eastern frontier (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria), approximately 58 million live in Poland and Romania. Biden’s visit to Romania and U.S. President Barack Obama’s planned visit to Poland provide a sense of how Washington looks at the region and, for the moment at least, the world. How all of this plays out is, of course, dependent on the Russians and the course of the Ukrainian crisis.

All Soviet satellites emerged damaged after the collapse of the old order in 1989. Few were as damaged as Romania. In many ways, the damage was self-inflicted: The villain of the piece was a Romanian, Nicolae Ceausescu. Ceausescu followed an anti-Soviet line, staying in the Warsaw Pact but displaying singular hostility to the Soviet Union. I recall Americans being excited about Ceausescu’s Romania since, being anti-Soviet, it was assumed that by definition he had to be pro-American. To America’s amazement, he wasn’t. He wasn’t even pro-Romanian given that he concocted a scheme to pay off all of Romania’s foreign debts by destroying the lives of a generation of Romanians by consigning the vast majority of the country’s agricultural and industrial production to hard currency exports. Beyond that, he created a nightmarish security system that was both corrupt and vicious. The world barely noticed. When the end came, it also came for Ceausescu and his wife, the only Eastern European leaders to be executed (amid intense fighting between factions).

 

For all that, Romania has done remarkably well. Romania’s unemployment rate is only about 7 percent, which by European standards is remarkably low. Its annual growth rate stands at more than 3 percent, which is conversely high. In talking to Romanians, it is hard to see into their hearts. They seem a gracious and friendly people, with a measure of distrust and a taste for conspiracy no greater than the norm for this region. What is remarkable about the Romanians is that they are unremarkable. They have emerged from a nightmare inflicted by one of their own and have regained their balance.

 

Ceausescu aside, the nightmare was initiated by the Soviets, who were drawn in by the Germans. This has resulted in a lasting national trait: When the Russians act, it strikes fear deep into the Romanian heart. When the Russians act and the Germans have a hand in the action, the Romanians’ worst nightmare is realized. Their reaction doesn’t manifest itself as with the Poles, who are always committed to the decisive confrontation. Instead, the nightmare scenario elicits a more cautious and sinewy response involving the search for a way both to resist and if necessary to accommodate. Above all, it elicits a search for allies, preferably far enough away not to occupy them and strong enough to offer meaningful support. Obviously, the Americans are tailor-made for this role, so long as they don’t overstep their bounds and generate fears of domination.

 

The Ukrainian Factor

 

Events in Ukraine have, of course, set this process in motion. Remarkably, the United States, which remained a bystander other times, has gotten quickly and significantly involved this time around. There is no question in Romania as to the importance of Ukraine to Russia, nor any belief that the Russians will let go of it. My view is that Russia will not let go, but will let things quiet down a bit. The Russian gamble is that no matter what the outcome of Ukraine’s elections, the Ukrainians will be unable to form a coherent government. If that is true, then the Russians can pick the Ukrainians apart over time, returning to the status quo ante. Therefore, the Russians will wait. Time, if this view is correct, is on the Russians’ side.

 

The Russians do not want to be excessively aggressive for another reason: namely, Germany. The Germans do not want to go beyond occasional rhetoric in confronting Russia. In fact, they don’t want to confront Russia at all. They want to do business with Russia. I heard several times that the Germans have already opted to align themselves with Russia for commercial reasons. In my view, German policy is moving in that direction, but the deal is not yet sealed. In the same way that Russian President Vladimir Putin rushed to China to gain at least the appearance of strategic options, so, too, Putin wants as deep a relationship with Germany as he can get. He will not be excessively and overtly aggressive until and unless he must be. The Germans cannot be seen as simply abandoning their European allies, and Putin cannot put them in that position

.

The Russians want to quiet Ukraine down for another reason. Crises galvanize Americans to act rapidly, and frequently, effectively. Crises that are dying down cause the Americans to pause and consider the direction of events. As Biden’s visit to Romania indicated, Washington moves fast in crisis mode. The Russians can control the tempo of American actions by cooling things down in Ukraine — or so they think. And this is precisely what worries the Romanians. They see themselves as having a long-term Russian problem. At the moment, they are making a large bet that the Americans will follow through on their commitments and interest even as the Russians dial down the immediate crisis.

 

Fairly or not, the Romanians see the Obama administration as insufficiently engaged and heedless of the dangers the Russians pose. They also see the administration as intensely critical of Romania’s culture of corruption — which the Romanians admit is a problem — but intensely interested in military and political coordination. They understand the United States, which is what worries them. On the one hand, they will be courted intensely by the vice president only to be condemned by the State Department, and expected to expose themselves to Russian retaliation. I tried to explain the complexities of being American. The Romanians’ sympathy was restrained. They think they heard a real commitment from the American side, but they simply don’t know how genuine it is.

 

In the course of various conversations I tried to explain my view of the situation. The United States has a pattern of engagement in Europe. It postpones intervention to the last moment, builds alliance structures, supports allies with economic and military aid, and then waits until late in the game to intervene, always hoping it won’t have to. Biden’s and Hagel’s visits are part of the process of creating a regional bloc to contain the Russians and to establish a framework for military aid. Intervention comes much later, if ever.

 

The Romanians are more comfortable with this than the Poles are, who have asked for 10,000 NATO troops on their territory. The Romanians have no such expectations. They are also prepared to increase their defense budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product, which is significant for Europe these days. But they expect the United States to help finance the cost of the weapons they need to purchase. Expecting credit when facing the Russians, however, is no more reasonable than subjecting a country to State Department criticism while the Defense Department is urging risk taking. The Romanians ultimately feel that the U.S. intent isn’t clear.

 

U.S. Goals

 

The American intent at this point is to maintain an independent, pro-Western Ukraine. That might simply not be possible. But the problem is that in having this goal, and pursuing it to some effect, the United States has convinced the Russians that it intends to break the Russian Federation by denying it an essential sphere of influence. The Russians have now concluded that whatever happens in this round in Ukraine, this process will not end.

 

Whatever the American thoughts initially, they are realizing that the Russian threat to Ukraine is permanent, and that whatever happens in Ukraine, it will extend to countries like Romania. And Romania particularly matters to the Russians for two reasons. First, Romania is on the Black Sea, and the Black Sea is Russia’s southern maritime access to the world. That’s why they had to hold Sevastopol, and that’s why Odessa mattered so much. The Russians are aware that they need access to the Bosporus, controlled by the Turks. Still, American aircraft in Romania and Romanian ships in the Black Sea could complicate the Russians’ lives substantially, including their power in the Caucasus, since Georgia is on the Black Sea as well. It should be noted that boosting naval power is on the Romanian-American agenda, and both countries understand the challenge this creates for Russia.

 

The second challenge is that Romania is potentially capable of producing significant hydrocarbons, including oil. The Russians’ only real card in this game is their energy sales to Europe. If they withhold it, the pressure is enormous and that economic pressure can be converted to political power. Germany’s attitude is influenced by several things, but energy dependence is certainly one of the main ones.

 

There is no simple energy alternative to Russia, but one can be cobbled together from several sources, if not to replace Russian energy then to mitigate its power. Romania has energy and other resources to contribute to this, and the public statement issued by the United States and Romania included a commitment by Romania to focus on energy production as a critical element of the partnership. This is not as easy as it sounds. Romania has a reputation abroad for enormous complexity and unreliability in its permitting process.

 

This is another point where Romania’s new strategy intersects with Russian interests. The Romanian view is that the Russians are extending their influence throughout the region, but particularly in Romania. They do it by the traditional means of using their intelligence services to try to manipulate the political process in Romania. As important, they can use commercial relations to weave networks of influence that are designed to make it costly for Romania to resist the Russians. The Russians are particularly adept at using Gazprom, its subsidiaries and other Russian energy companies to purchase and invest in Romanian and regional companies. The deals are never unattractive to either side in business terms, but they also serve to put the Russians in a position to shape both energy policy and political dynamics. This what I call commercial imperialism: the use of deals, particularly in energy, to create blocking points within the political system when Russian interests are threatened. This is not confined to Romania; the Russians use this tool to shape the behavior of other countries. Though certainly far less unpleasant than Soviet occupation, it nevertheless poses a challenge to U.S. influence.

 

Moldova, Energy and Russian Subtlety

 

There is another dimension to all of this, namely, Moldova. Moldova is ethnically Romanian but has been dominated by the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire. It is a place that survives by its wits and by accommodating Russian influence. It is an important place in the sense that if it were to be occupied by the Russians, Moscow would have access to the Prut River, with only a plain between it and Bucharest. If Moldova were to join Romania, then NATO would be on the Dniester River, less than a hundred miles from Odessa.

 

But such calculations matter only in wartime, and the Russians are inherently weak. Their single advantage is energy exports, and that advantage depends on the world price of oil, where they make their real profits. They do not control that price and in the future it is possible that the United States, suddenly a massive producer of oil, will be pushing the price downward. If that happens, there is little left for them.

 

But that won’t happen for a couple of years, if it happens at all. And the full strength of the United States will not be at Romania’s call for a few years, if it does become available. And Romania’s obligation to produce energy won’t manifest itself for a couple of years. So here in southeastern Europe, the Russians have a window of opportunity to create a framework that can withstand the winter that is coming.

 

 

They cannot live without Ukraine. They cannot take Romania. With or without the Americans, the Russians aren’t strong enough for that. What they can do is manipulate, subvert, confuse and deflect. They need to undermine the Romanian entente with the United States, and they are skilled at the political maneuvering needed to do that. To many in Romania, Russia is near and strong, America far and indecisive. This was pointed out to me at one meeting. I replied: “In the 20th Century, the United States has won three wars in Europe. How many have the Romanians won?”

 

The most remarkable thing about Romania and even Europe as a whole is that in spite of the historical reality that the United States wins European wars, there is a view of the United States that it is naive, unfocused and bumbling. This goes beyond this administration to every administration I can recall. And yet, it is the United States that decides the fate of Europe consistently.

 

The Romanians know this, but they still feel that the Russians are more clever and capable than the United States. I think the reason is that the Russians move with enormous subtlety and complexity. They do this to compensate for their weakness. The United States operates more simply. It can afford to; it is playing from strength. For now, the Romanians accept this, but their acceptance is fragile. It depends on political consistency on the part of the United States, but with great distance come options and the ability to change one’s mind. Romania is here and can’t go elsewhere. It can only change alliances and hope for the best, something both sides need to consider.

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Borderlands: First Moves in Romania is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

 

Copyright © 2014 Stratfor | 221 West 6th Street Suite 400 – Austin, TX 78701, USA

George Friedman is the Chairman of Stratfor, a company he founded in 1996 that is now a leader in the field of global intelligence.  Friedman guides Stratfor’s strategic vision and oversees the development and training of the company’s intelligence unit.

 

Dr. Friedman is the author of The New York Times best-seller The Next Decade, which forecasts the major events and challenges that will test America and its presidents over the course of the next decade. Dr. Friedman’s previous book, The Next 100 Years, was also a New York Times best-seller and was published in over 20 languages. His other books on warfare and intelligence include America’s Secret War, The Future of War and The Intelligence Edge.

 

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