FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Danielle Varallo (202) 228-3853 (Kirk)
Rachel MacKnight (202) 228-1122 (Mikulski)
Kirk, Mikulski, 15 Senators Urge Obama to Strengthen Commitment to Poland
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), along with 15 other Senators, today sent a letter to President Obama asking him to announce a strengthened U.S. commitment to Poland and the Polish people during his upcoming visit to this important U.S. ally. The Senators asked the President to announce a set of strong pro-Poland measures, including increased U.S. and NATO support for Poland’s armed forces, enhanced missile defense efforts, and a strong U.S. commitment to support all efforts to help Europe diversify its energy supplies away from Russia.
The cosponsors are Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho).
President Obama’s visit is timed for the 25th anniversary of Poland’s first partially free elections, which marked the beginning of the country’s liberation from communism.
“We know from history what happens when Western leaders abandon Poland,” said Senator Kirk. “This bipartisan effort is a call to action for the President to show Poland and her people that the United States stands firmly with them against the threat of Russian aggression and for a Europe whole, free, and at peace.”
“I applaud the President for his commitment to strengthening ties with Poland and focusing on security in the region,” said Senator Mikulski. “Poland is a steadfast and true ally and we must take this opportunity to reaffirm the strong alliance between our two countries.”
A copy of the letter is below:
May 23, 2014
Dear Mr. President:
As champions of the U.S.-Poland partnership, we welcome your decision to visit Poland on June 4. This visit is vitally important, as it comes not only on the 25th anniversary of Poland regaining its liberty from communism, but also at the most challenging moment for the region since the fall of the Iron Curtain.
We therefore urge you to announce during your visit a set of decisive measures to strengthen America’s commitment to Poland and the Polish people. These measures should encompass a renewed and long-term U.S. military commitment to NATO and Poland, as well as a U.S. government commitment to help Europe diversify its energy supplies away from Russia.
First and foremost, we encourage you to publicly reaffirm to the Polish people America’s ironclad commitment to Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. As part of this commitment, we urge you to propose a plan to increase U.S. and NATO support for the armed forces of Poland.
Second, we urge you to announce to continue to work with the Polish government to enhance U.S. missile defense efforts in Europe and in Poland. This plan should include a range of options, including a firm commitment to place a land-based interceptor site in Poland as well as full U.S. technical cooperation with Polish efforts to acquire their own missile defense.
Third, we urge you to announce that the U.S. government is fully committed to helping Europe diversify its energy supplies. Poland, along with our allies in the region, is heavily reliant on Russian energy that also makes it vulnerable to Russia’s political pressure, as amply demonstrated when Gazprom cut supplies to Europe in 2008-2009 in its dispute with Ukraine. To help Europe lessen this dangerous dependence, U.S. must support all efforts to bring additional supplies to the market.
Mr. President, Russian aggression against a sovereign Ukraine represents a grave threat to the region and a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Polish allies to confront this challenge.
We look forward to your immediate response.