Poland and Ballistic Missile Defense: The Limits of Atlanticism Proliferation Papers, No. 48, 2014
Since Poland first expressed its willingness to host a critical part of the US Ballistic Missile Defense architecture, in 2002, the program has undergone several setbacks. Today, while Poland is still expected to host key elements of the US BMD capabilities, contributing to NATO’s territorial defense against ballistic missile threats, Warsaw does not enjoy the kind of special bilateral relationship that it was trying to secure with Washington.
Domestic politics, changing threat assessments, the US ‘reset’ policy vis-à-vis Russia and the latter’s critics of BMD’s destabilizing character all contributed to this change, which, in turn, had strong consequences for Poland’s strategic posture. It sparked the recent Polish decision to acquire national air and missile defense capabilities, both as a strategic asset for the country’s own deterrence posture and as a national contribution to the NATO BMD system. It also influenced Poland’s attempt to reconcile its long-term national interests and threat perception with BMD’s greater role within the Alliance, both by emphasizing NATO’s collective defense mission and by ensuring that nuclear weapons would remain at the heart of NATO’s deterrence posture.