Poland to Trump: improved Russia ties must not harm us

2 min

Warsaw (AFP)

Poland on Friday told US President-elect Donald Trump's incoming administration that any improvement in Washington's ties with Moscow cannot come at the cost of harming Warsaw.

"You can't criticise anyone for wanting to improve relations with Russia," Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said.

"We're Russia's neighbours and we would also want this. This is our message to the Americans: we like this, but not at our cost," he told RMF commercial radio.

Waszczykowski's comments come just a week ahead of the inauguration of Trump, who has suggested his Republican administration will seek to improve relations with the Kremlin.

Tensions between Russia and the West have escalated over the past two years, triggered by Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its military campaign in Syria a year later.

In response, US President Barack Obama's administration ordered the deployment of an armoured brigade to NATO's eastern flank in a bid to reassure Poland and other allies rattled by frequent Russian military exercises near the region.

The brigade's arrival in Poland on Thursday -- as part of one of the largest deployments of US forces in Europe since the Cold War -- drew a swift and angry response from the Kremlin which described it as a "threat" on its "doorstep".

The Obama adminstration has also pushed a hard line on maintaining sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine.

"Since November 8, Donald Trump is behaving rationally, warning about Russia," Waszczykowski said.

"They (the Trump administration) think rationally, as we do, and their view of the world and of competition with Russia is similar to ours."

Poland has long been wary of its Soviet-era master Russia.

Since shedding communism in 1989, Warsaw's foreign policy has been focused on building buffers against Moscow, namely through its 1999 membership of the NATO Western defence alliance and 2004 entry into the European Union.

But Russia has long frowned upon Poland's drive to integrate itself with the West.