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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Saturate The East! Poland Revamps Its Military Strategy In Response To Russian Threat

Poland has a border with Russia and Belarus, so it is not just watching how the Ukraine war develops. Warsaw is rethinking its entire defense strategy.

Photo of a Polish soldier seen working at the construction of the fence along the border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Wisztyniec, Poland. A Polish soldier seen working at the construction of the fence along the border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

Attila Husejnow / SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Stanislav Zhelikhovsky

KYIV — It will soon be exactly one year since the Russian Federation launched its large-scale invasion of Ukraine. During that time, neighboring Poland has been playing the role of a front-line country — NATO's eastern outpost.

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Polish government agencies have been hard at work on what to do if the country is attacked. In particular, a new defense directive. After all, Poland’s Political and Strategic Defense Directive, which has been in effect since 2018, must be updated because it simply doesn't match today's reality.

Poland's Deputy Minister of National Defense, Wojciech Skurkiewicz, announced a change in defense doctrine with the defense forces set up on the Vistula River, located in northeastern Poland. Ukraine's experience shows the need to protect the country's entire territory as quickly as possible.

Polish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Mariusz Blaszczak also announced the formation of another division of the army, which will operate near the border with Russia and Belarus.

Poland's plans for defense

"We are trying to saturate the eastern part of our country with troops; in this regard, we are implementing new units, which will be set in the territories bordering Belarus and coordinate with legions on the north and south of the country," Blaszczak said.

The former commander of the GROM (Polish special forces unit), General Roman Polko, explained that the doctrine that envisages defense on the newly established Vistula line, in the event of a possible Russian attack, "would lead to the flourishing of barbarism and terrorism in eastern Poland. "

His conclusion? "An enemy like this should not be allowed even a meter into our territory."

Skwierzyna, Poland. Polish Soldiers (Air Defense) singing the Polish National Anthem during a celebration ceremony in 2017.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Tarr on Flickr

Protecting classified information

Deputy Minister Skurkiewicz stated that politicians in Poland will plan a defense operation. Such an operation falls under the remit of the General Staff of the Polish Army, whose role, as we have recently seen, has been marginalized by government officials. Army staff themselves have been somewhat sidelined.

General Mieczyslaw Gocul, former Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Army, warned that the new defense strategy can be compromised by politics:

“Politicians no longer listen to the army."

There are also problems preserving classified information, which an aggressive terrorist country like Russia can undoubtedly use. After all, the Kremlin is looking for any weaknesses it can find in the security of Ukraine and other Western countries — and that starts with Kyiv's closest allies in the region.

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food / travel

Pasta v. Fascists: How Italy's Staple Dish Became A Symbol Of Resistance

Pasta may not be considered controversial today, but it played an important role during Italy's fascist years, particularly in one family's celebration of community and liberation.

Photo of the Cervi family.

Photo of the Cervi family, whose seven children were shot by the Fascists on December 28, 1943, at the Reggio Emilia shooting range.

@comunisti_alla_ribalta via Instagram
Jacopo Fontaneto

ROME — Eighty years ago — on July 25, 1943 — the vote of no confidence by the Grand Council of Fascism, leading to Benito Mussolini's arrest, set off widespread celebrations. In Campegine, a small village in the Emilian province, the Cervi family celebrated in their own way: they brought 380 kilograms of pasta in milk cans to the town square and offered it to all the inhabitants of the village.

The pasta was strictly plain: macaroni dressed with butter and cheese, seen as more of a "festive dish" in that period of deprivation. As soon as the Cervi brothers learned about the arrest of Mussolini, they procured flour, borrowed butter and cheese from the dairy, and prepared kilos and kilos of pasta. They then loaded it onto a cart to distribute it to their fellow villagers. Pastasciutta (dry pasta) specifically regards dishes with noodles that are plated "dry", not in broth. That would disqualify soup, risotto, ravioli...

Even though pastasciutta is the most stereotypical type of pasta today, it had a complicated relationship with the government during Italy's fascist years.

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