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Russian Deputy Says Polish Comments Could Hurt Relations

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski
Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski
(RFE/RL) - -A Russian Duma deputy says that comments by Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski could harm Russian-Polish relations.

Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Duma's International Affairs Committee, said in Moscow that Sikorski’s statement about Russia threatening Polish security is "absolutely groundless and unacceptable." He added that the Russian Foreign Ministry should respond to Sikorski's statement.

Kosachev's comment came after Russian media outlets quoted Sikorski as calling on the United States to deploy its troops in Poland "as a shield against Russian aggression."

Interfax reported that Sikorski made the comment at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on November 4. But neither Polish media reports nor recorded statements by Sikorski include the quote.

Sikorski told Polish radio station RMF that his words were "distorted." Sikorski only said that Central Europe needs "a strategic reassurance" from Washington and NATO forces should be deployed in the region.

He said that when Poland joined NATO in 1999, the alliance promised Russia that no significant NATO forces would be placed in the region. But he said no one would have thought that no forces whatsoever would be placed there.

Sikorski also pointed to Russian-Belarusian military maneuvers in Belarus in September, during which a nuclear attack on Poland was simulated. Sikorski called the exercises "an unfriendly act."

He asked rhetorically: "If you had on the one hand 900 tanks, and, on the other, six troops, would you be convinced [that you were safe]?" He said that there are only six U.S. soldiers in Poland.

Meanwhile, Kosachev said that references to military exercises should not be taken seriously because such maneuvers have repeatedly been held in Poland and "no one [in Russia] said that [Poland is] threatening us."