>> this is al jazeera and these are thtop stories. ukrainian military officials say they have reclaimed a city from russian forces. >> the occupiers pushed their way but it is too early to talk about safety in this part of the region. fighting continues. russian troops have resources and manpower and are trying to
rebuild units. >> at least 5000 civilians have been killed in mary a poll russian invasion began. up to 200,000 people remain trapped in the city. new talks between russia and ukraine are set to begin in turkey. negotiators will meet face-to-face in istanbul on tuesday. the turkish president says there has been progress between the sides. >> hopefully russian and ukrainian's delegates will meet again tomorrow in istanbul. we will get together with delegates and beat them briefly ahead of the meeting. i can say that the telephone traffic we are carrying out with them is advancing in a positive direction. >> wall street journal has reported three people and talks
with russia and ukraine earlier might have been poisoned. they reportedly suffered symptoms consistent with chemical agents. an investigative website says this -- they have confirmed the delegates illness but they have recovered. and juan hernandez has been wanted for drug and firearm charges and is going to be extradited to the united states. and pedro pous-tio appeared in lima to face allegations of corruption. those are the headlines here on al jazeera. next, inside story. ♪
>> poland has received more refugees from ukraine than any other country, while moscow has warned its government to stay out of the war but is there a . risk of a spillover, and if so , what would be the fallout? this is inside story. ♪ hello and welcome to the program. russia's invasion of ukraine has had a direct impact on neighboring countries, most of whom are members of nato. poland has become vital in the western effort to defend ukraine, with some of the fighting getting close to its border. last week, russian forces targeted the western ukrainian
city near the polish border just as the u.s. president was visiting poland . and according to ukraine's military, three weeks after the war began, a russian drone flew over poland before entering ukrainian airspace, where it was shot down. the situation has forced nato to decide on how to respond to incidents like this inside the borders of its member states. the u.s. president visited ukrainian refugees and nato troops in the polish capital warsaw on saturday. during a speech to a large crowd, he warned russia against violating nato territory. president biden: violating nato territory don't even think about moving on one single inch of nato territory. we have sacred obligation, we have a sacred obligation under article 5 to defend each and every inch of nato territory. hasam: poland has had an important role since the
conflict began last month. it went from rejecting migrants from the middle east to opening its doors to those from ukraine, hosting more than 2 million people, the largest group of ukrainian refugees in europe. poland hosts nato battle groups to deter russia and reinforce other members when needed, and along with romania it's also a gateway for nato arms supplies heading to ukraine. hundreds of stinger missiles, javelin anti-tank weapons, and other munitions have passed through its borders. let's bring in our guests now to talk more about this in warsaw ray wojciech, he is a senior fellow at the center for european policy analysis and a former military attache at the u.s. embassy in warsaw. in brussels, robert shell, a senior fellow at the casimir pulaski foundation in poland and a former polish diplomat and nato official. and joining us from oxford in england, samuel romney, an
associate fellow at the royal united services institute. good to have you with us. ray, what is the mood in poland? the significant role that poland finds itself in. ray: to start off, in general the polish population has done a , remarkable job in the government in hosting literally millions. so we're seeing more people uh migrating or refugees falling into poland than we've seen refugee flows in this short span of time since world war ii. i think it's an important point to highlight you mentioned the migrants on the belarus border this is all part of the full , operation that putin initiated last summer. that hybrid warfare attack against the polish border, those were migrants being used as
weapons against poland, destabilizing the border, and then also tying up the military force so that they can't concentrate and focus on their primary mission. but overall generally the polls -- poles are very positive about what they're able to do to help their ukrainian brothers, they see this existential crisis for them for ukraine as an existential crisis for poland , should they lose. hasam: and robert shell, how do you see poland's role in all of this, particularly when you remember that before this conflict started poland has had the reputation of being kind of the bad boys of europe up till then with a lot of criticism about their moves that in inside poland that were seen as trampling on the judiciary on independent media and backsliding over democratic norms. yet now it is a very important
player in all of this. robert: nobody is perfect and there are various issues which which i'm frankly indeed as you mentioned to do with a dispute that the polish government has had. there is debate. it is about tactics that the detail of response. but poland knows the threats and poland has been among those countries who have been providing a very realistic analysis of the situation. it has not always been heard sufficiently you know strongly so to speak in in other in
international institutions, so but it's not about being vindicated by the analysis. the key issue, poland is actually the key country in terms of both indeed handling of the refugee crisis and they really rushed to help the ukrainians, which is a miscalculation of putin. but poland is also a frontline state. they are hosting about 10,000 allied troops, predominantly american, but also providing a vital hub for defense assistance . they are doing a lot when it comes to increasing defense expenditure. in other words, poland is taking
this crisis very seriously and also responding. so it is perhaps one of the key reasons biden came from a nato meeting to wausau -- warsaw. hasam: samuel romney, if we could talk about the security aspect of this and we mentioned at the top there the risk of a spillover if this escalates into something beyond ukraine's borders. if that does happen, poland is likely to be very much in the eye of the storm. samuel: i think that there's certainly a grave risk of an accidental escalation that drags poland into a broader sense of conflict. because even though russia
claims that has pivoted its military operation towards focusing on the liberation of donbass as it calls it so moving towards eastern ukraine, we've seen a continuation of strikes in western ukraine strikes on oil depots, communications towers, s300 air defense systems , factory and munitions factories inside. they also had an accidental missile strike that hit a turkish ship on the first day of the war. i think the countries most at risk are georgia and moldova probably followed by estonia, lithuania, and bosnia because the russians have threatened there, and then poland being further removed from that. hasam: ray, one thing you notice about about poland's approach to all of this as well in contrast with with some of its european and nato partners is that they've taken much more of a
hard-line approach to russia than some of their allies, they've wanted more forceful sanctions. they have wanted more in terms of defensive assistance to ukrainian forces but they have been overruled up to now. what do you make of that? ray: that's just part and parcel of polish history. there was a long problematic history in this region of what the russians did here, colluding with the germans in world war ii , russians occupied poland for 123 years those things those are long memories and the polish people never forgot that. baltic states and romanians for example were pushing and called russophobic by many have been borne out to be true.
so in the case of a polish focus on defense preparedness, as robert pointed out, not only is 3% defense spending also being announced but as far as nato gdp spending, it puts poland at number two. the united states is the only other ally that will be spending more on defense. poland has pledged to increase their military size from approximately 140,000 territorial and active today to almost doubling or more. at hundred thousand troops total. poland is focused on a program that predates the latest attack. even before 2008 when the russians invaded georgia, so the poles take this very seriously and they're very disappointed all these years that the west europeans mostly have a
different view. but the west europeans are waking up. the germans talking about their defense spending changes modernizing their military and being a more willing and able facilitator of defense on nato's eastern flank, so those are all good things but it's coming at a very late date, and and same thing for u.s. supplying the weapons to ukraine. as far as the big initiatives, the three really pushed is the mig-29 transfer, very disappointing how that worked out. the second is the no-fly zone. and then the ground mission. those are all strong initiatives supporting ukraine. hasam: robert shell, what do you
make of the relationship between the eu as a whole and poland right now? will this newfound favor and bold government in warsaw now? robert: politics never stops. there are issues. but in poland there is very strong support for the european union. i think only nato probably gathers higher in opinion polls. but the eu as an institution has traveled a long road. there has been a lot of action, not just talk as used to be the case. eu is really a key player when it comes to sanctions and you
know, at the moment i would say the eu institutions have been exemplary in terms of pushing forward. the problem is you need capitals to line up and at the moment poland is strongly arguing for going what hurts the kremlin regime, gas and oil exports. poland has done more homework. by the end of the year, poland will be totally independent of russian gas because they have taken steps to invest in alternatives. but i think there is a gathering of momentum.
a political example, i would mention i know there have been sniping remarks from the sidelines but ukrainians appreciate the fact that poland is showing the way but some issues related to the judicial system have to be discussed further. but at the moment, the important thing is unity between organizations and determination to press ahead and impose such high costs on russia that it will reconsider what it is doing now. but ukraine needs to be supported in the fight and that
is something warsaw argues for. so crisis brings out the best in those who care about security and support for the victims of aggressions. hasam: let's pick up on some of that with samuel. at some stage when ukraine is no longer dominating the headlines, if there's a negotiated peace or the war becomes uh one of one of attrition and just falls out of the spotlight, the underlying issues, the rule of law dispute with poland with the ea -- with the eu won't go away and have to be addressed. samuel: certainly. poland has certainly used and leveraged this crisis to be a vanguard in terms of dealing with russia and that's been a
very positive thing. poland has been able to actually steer and influence eu policy in the direction of energy because it was one of the most dependent countries on coal coming from russia up to 70%. we have seen poland take the lead regarding arms transfers. so poland is the leader and also the outlier. it is interesting and think it will persist after this because rule of all issues -- rule of law issues won't go away. hasam: ray, what do you make of that dynamic? there is a push and pull. ray: if you try to understand the position of the current government of poland, there's
two sides to the story. the government of poland sees reforms in the court system previously, try to do things with the media and other areas. they see it is there domain to deal with. so part of the argument with the eu and the u.s. is these are things that are domestic issues that we want to change or that were not reformed. so i think it's not all about what you read in the west that poland is almost an autocratic state which i think over blows the reality on the ground. the other thing is the u.s. ambassador has made it clear in washington and here that even
though those are issues he wants to work on and deal with with poland, there will be no daylight between on security defense issues and the mission at hand now. so those issues will not play a primary role. things are speeding up on security defense as far as weapons transfers to poland and then transfers from poland to ukraine. hasam: robert shell, what do you see as the main security issues for poland in this in this going forward, in terms of defensive readiness should the conflict escalate? robert: we can't allow ourselves to be intimidated by the relatively skillful narrative of
the kremlin. that is what they're trying to do. we have seen direct verbal disinformation attacks on poland . polish are not easily scared and will keep their cool. but of course there are various issues related to the way that russia is conducting this war in ukraine, which is not really winning. the myth of the russian army as successful and efficient is gone . having said that, russia has once again shown itself to be unconcerned about human life. any attack from russia on nato
countries would be suicidal but we do not want to see one inch of poland destroyed by the madman in the kremlin. so i think there is were going on right now to configure nato to be more directly protecting the defensive lines of not just poland, but the baltic states and helping other countries like georgia and the balkans. so it is multifaceted but it just shows that joining nato has been one of the best things to happen to poland because it's a different ballgame when you are
together with 120 -- when you are together with other allies. hasam: how do you see poland's role in this? samuel: the british, polish, ukrainian platform has been created is a positive step. [indiscernible] poland is using its borders as a conduit. those trilateral frameworks will be very important for polish influence going forward. in terms of policies, i think some will advance with particular vigor. one will be cutting off russian
banks. there is already support for that. jim risch for example talking about secondary sanctions on russian banks. u.s. poland cooperation and the financial punishment of russia is something we should watch for . poland might also be pushing for switzerland and any european countries that are on the fence about banning rt and sputnik to make that kind of step as well as granting russians who are defecting asylum. and more sweeping sanctions on individual russians could be something poland lobbies to do. so very active in sanctions and coordination of military assistance. hasam: there's been talk for several years of permanently assigning u.s. and nato forces more to poland. do you think that is a possibility?
>> yes i do. i think the interesting point about that is in the last couple years just like the threat assessment where the polls had been maligned a little bit by some in the west russophobic . when poland proposed this permanent basing of american forces on the eastern flank, the joe came out about four trumpet it was going to be focused and a laughing point that it was fort trump.
but i think it will become a reality. hasam: we have to leave it. thank you to all three of you. thanks for being on inside story. and thank you for watching. you can see the program again anytime by visiting our website aljazeela.com, and for further discussion you can go to our facebook page. you can also join the conversation on twitter. for me and the team here, bye for now. ♪
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