Nicholas Richardson
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Submarine

“Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in attack.” So thought Sun Tzu and while attack, one assumes, is not on the agenda, Poland continues to respond to events further east with an increase in activity of a defensive bent. It’s all pretty modest compared to brother Putin’s military exercises, of course, but it’s the thought that counts and, after all, it is NATO’s and the EU’s will power that is really being tested. Poland is determined not to be caught short in the will power department.

Thus, the ministry of defence said yesterday that selected members of the reserve forces must turn up for military exercises “immediately”, a move General Bogusław Pacek was keen to point out was nothing out of ordinary and nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine. This “nothing to do with”, slightly Orwellian, formulation seems very popular these days, especially when used to excuse the latest atrocity on the streets of Europe and elsewhere which, we are told is “nothing to do with” Islam, something which must come as a surprise to those committing the crimes for whom it certainly is everything to do with it. Je suis aveugle, apparently, but I digress.

The reservists must reach a given military unit within hours, this being “the perfect test” of the reservists’ readiness to perform. Rather excitingly, General Pacek stated that the reservists would not be informed about the whereabouts of the military unit beforehand so as to ensure reliable results of the test. It’s good to see that the Polish military has a sense of humour, if a rather touching faith in Polish organizational skills.

Elsewhere, Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak and National Security Bureau Chairman Stanisław Koziej attended a meeting on Friday of over 120 paramilitary organisations in Warsaw. These organizations teach members first aid, the location of shelters, and basic firearms use, some even hiring paratroopers to train them in self-defence, survival and combat. The organizations intend to create a federation to lobby for a greater recognition of their role in national defence.

Meanwhile, back with the military, US-Polish exercises are underway at Sochaczew, west of Warsaw, as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve. The 3rd Warsaw Air Defence Missile Brigade, which is stationed there, has been joined by a U.S. Patriot missile battery which has driven from Kaiserslautern in Germany, along with 100 American soldiers and about 30 vehicles. The U.S. Ambassador Stephen Mull, said that the presence of the Patriot missile battery shows that ”U.S. security guarantees for Poland as part of NATO mean something more that only words on paper.”

And in addition to Patriot missiles, Poland has its eye Tomahawk missiles, the sale of which to Poland, the Ambassador said, might face technical difficulties. Hitherto Tomahawks have been used only on US-made submarines. “If Poland decides to buy another type of vessel, we must examine whether they can be used there,” Ambassador Mull told TVN24. The only foreign country which has previously purchased Tomahawks is the United Kingdom.

But, cometh the hour, cometh the man. The man, in this case, being Marcin Kostrzewa, 31, a Pole resident in Plymouth, Devon, who has been convicted and imprisoned for stealing secret documents about British nuclear submarines from a neighbour, Shane Spencer, which he tried to sell to the Polish government for £50,000. He broke into the next-door flat and took the restricted files.

Spencer, worked at the Plymouth Royal Navy base as an engineer on designs for the Trafalgar and Astute class submarines. He first met Kostrzewa in late 2011 when the Pole had knocked on his door to complain about noise. Kostrzewa then kept turning up at weekends and in the evenings with alcohol. After a while the frequent attendance began to irritate Spencer who finally refused to answer the door to Kostrzewa who could be heard saying ‘you reject me, you reject me’.

Kostrzewa took the documents after searching online for terms such as ‘spy games’, ‘spies’, ‘secret documents’, and ‘consulate Republic of Poland’. He then contacted the Polish embassy to sell the papers. A British security services agent posed as a Polish intelligence officer meeting Kostrzewa in a hotel room suitably equipped to record the meeting. As he left the room he was arrested by police on suspicion of breaking the Official Secrets Act. Kostrzewa had a history of robbery and burglary in Poland.

So there you have it, from the sublime to the ridiculous, Poland is taking defence seriously, an example others could, and should, usefully follow.

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