Poland's new rightwing government on Friday risked a damaging confrontation with Russia when it published a Warsaw Pact map showing detailed plans for Soviet nuclear strikes against western Europe.
Poland threw open the doors of its military archives to show how most of Europe would have been laid to waste in a nuclear conflagration between east and west. Dating from 1979, when presidents Jimmy Carter and Leonid Brezhnev were discussing detente, the map showed how Warsaw Pact forces would have responded to an attack by the NATO alliance.
A series of red mushroom clouds over western Europe show that Soviet nuclear weapons strikes would have been launched at Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium if NATO had struck first. Red clouds are drawn over the then German capital, Bonn, and other key German cities such as the financial center of Frankfurt, Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich and the strategically important northern port of Hamburg. Brussels, the political headquarters of NATO, is also targeted.
Blue mushroom clouds, representing the expected NATO nuclear strikes, are drawn over cities in the eastern bloc, including Warsaw and the then Czechoslovakian capital, Prague. France would have escaped attack, possibly because it is not a member of NATO's integrated structure. Britain, which has always been at the heart of NATO, would also have been spared, suggesting Moscow wanted to stop at the Rhine to avoid overstretching its forces.
The exercise, entitled Seven Days to the River Rhine, indicated Warsaw Pact forces aimed to reach the Franco-German border within a week of a NATO attack.
Standing next to the fading map in Warsaw yesterday, Radoslaw Sikorski, the Polish defense minister, said: "The objective of the exercise on this map is to take over most of western Europe -- all of Germany, Belgium and Denmark."
Sikorski, who made a name for himself working for the rightwing American Enterprise Institute thinktank in Washington, made clear he was prepared for a backlash from Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, has lamented the demise of the Soviet Union.
Announcing the release of 1,700 Warsaw Pact papers from Poland's military archive, he said: "This is crucial to educating the country on the way Poland was an unwilling ally of the USSR in the cold war. The map shows a classic Warsaw Pact exercise -- it was a `counter' attack to defend itself by going all the way to the Atlantic."
Sikorski, who was appointed after the Law and Justice party won a surprise victory in the recent elections after pledging to cleanse the country of its communist past, believes the map shows how Moscow was prepared to sacrifice Poland to save the Soviet Union.
NATO's policy of retaining the right to a first nuclear strike -- because the Soviet Union had far superior conventional forces -- meant Polish troops dug in by the River Vistula would have been wiped out.
"This map is a moving and shattering personal experience," Sikorski said of the exercise, which estimated that 2 million Polish civilians would have died. "It shows that the Polish army was being used to participate in an operation that would have resulted in the nuclear annihilation of our country."
POLAND-GERMANY RIFT: Warsaw’s response to Berlin over a NATO system that would increase the alliance’s involvement in the war came as Kyiv accused Russia of war crimes Anti-missile systems that Germany offered to send to Poland should instead go to Ukraine, the Polish government said on Thursday, a proposal that is likely a nonstarter for Berlin because it would significantly ratchet up NATO involvement in Ukraine. Poland’s surprising response to Berlin’s offer was welcomed by Ukraine, which is desperate to protect its airspace as barrages of Russian missiles have knocked out power across the country. German Minister of Defense Christine Lambrecht said that use of NATO defense systems outside its territory needs to be agreed by all member states. “It is important to us that Poland can rely on allies
MONEY-MAKING SCHEME: Some students said they were misled about study or work opportunities, or were not told that they were coming to a self-proclaimed republic Foreign students are big business in northern Cyprus, a tiny, breakaway statelet only recognized by Turkey, but some warn that university recruiters are selling “dreams” in the internationally and economically isolated territory. One Nigerian student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he expected to arrive in the country whose soccer teams compete in European tournaments. Instead, when he saw the currency was the embattled Turkish lira, he realized this was “not the Cyprus I thought it was.” The Mediterranean island is divided between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus and a northern statelet established after Turkey launched a 1974 invasion in
AWAITING EXTRADITION: Daniel Duggan has been classified as ‘extreme high risk,’ has not been allowed to use stationery and has been denied treatment, his lawyer said The lawyer for a former US military pilot arrested in Australia and facing possible extradition to the US said that his client was wrongly classified as an “extreme high-risk” prisoner, and he had asked the attorney-general to release him. Former US Marines pilot Daniel Edmund Duggan was arrested in New South Wales in October at the request of the US government, the same week the UK announced a crackdown on its former military pilots working to train Chinese military fliers. The US must lodge an extradition request for Duggan by Dec. 20 under a bilateral treaty, a Sydney court was told yesterday.
WARTIME DIPLOMACY: Zelenskiy met EU leaders and hosted the International Summit on Food Security, which included discussions on agricultural exports from Ukraine Fleeing shelling, civilians on Saturday streamed out of the southern Ukrainian city whose recapture they had celebrated just weeks earlier. The exodus from Kherson came as Ukraine solemnly remembered a Stalin-era famine and sought to ensure that Russia’s war in Ukraine does not deprive others worldwide of its vital food exports. A line of trucks, vans and cars, some towing trailers or ferrying out pets and other belongings, stretched 1km or more on the outskirts of the city of Kherson. Days of intensive shelling by Russian forces prompted a bittersweet exodus: Many civilians were happy that their city had been won back, but