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How Poland Became ‘NATO’s Front Line’


Nick Schifrin:

Poland has long considered itself a frontline state against Russia. And since Russia launched its war in Ukraine, no country has become more important to Western efforts to repel the Russian invasion and help millions of Ukrainian refugees.

To talk about Poland’s role, I’m joined by Stephen Mull, former US Ambassador to Poland from 2012 to 2015, during the first Russian invasion of Ukraine. He is now vice provost for global affairs at the University of Virginia.

Stephen Mull, welcome to “NewsHour”.

How important is Poland to US and NATO efforts to respond to the Russian invasion?

Stephen Mull, former United States Ambassador to Poland: Well, good evening, Nick. It’s good to be with you.

Poland, of course, has always been the most strategically important country on NATO’s eastern flank since joining in 1999. But during the current invasion of Ukraine, it has become the center of the whole crisis, first of all because of the long border it shares with Ukraine.

It has a very uncomfortable front row seat for the ongoing invasion. And that makes our Polish allies very nervous. They share a 330 mile border with Poland. And not only that, but this Polish border is the main conduit for the growing number of weapons that the United States is sending to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

And, in the other direction, it is the main conduit for more than two million refugees who have fled the fighting in Ukraine. Thus, as the conflict draws closer to western Ukraine, which seems likely, it will increasingly find itself in a critical situation to which we will have to pay particular attention.


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