President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday in Warsaw will have three distinct audiences: the people of Poland and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe who have been seeking reassurance from the U.S. since Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea; Mr. Putin himself, who will be listening for clues to the next U.S. moves; and Mr. Obama’s European counterparts, who don’t always share U.S. urgency concerning Ukraine’s current course.
Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have all recently visited Warsaw and have stressed the durability of NATO’s Article 5 commitment, but many Poles and their neighbors view the Ukraine crisis as a direct threat to their national security–and worry about who would come to their aid if Mr. Putin sets his sights on NATO territory. Poland even requested that 10,000 U.S. combat troops be permanently stationed on its soil. (Neither NATO nor the United States has granted that request, which most NATO members believe would conflict with commitments the alliance made in the NATO-Russia Founding Act.
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