Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poland. Show all posts

July 22, 2019

Polish Pride Goes On Against Hooligans, Religion Opposition and Even The Government


                Image result for polish pride

Warsaw (AFP)

The first-ever Gay Pride parade was held in the eastern Polish city of Bialystok on Saturday, but the march was marred by violence from soccer hooligans and conservative campaigners staged counter-protests, local police said.

Some 800 supporters of LGBT+ rights marched through the city some 200 kilometers (124 miles) northeast of Warsaw, waving rainbow-colored flags and banners with slogans such as "love is not a sin". 

But soccer hooligans wearing ultra-nationalist T-shirts threw stones, firecrackers, and bottles at the marchers and at the police officers protecting them, a spokesman for the security forces said.

Catholic and nationalist organizations staged around 40 different counter-demonstrations in Bialystok on Saturday, including a family picnic organized by a local MP.

Hundreds of people prayed in front of the cathedral as the march made its way through the city.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights have become one of the key issues in the upcoming elections this autumn in the devoutly Catholic country.

The decision to allow a Gay Pride parade in Bialystok was highly contested by local religious groups.

Homosexuality is a frequent topic of public debate in Poland, whose conservative ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski condemned gay rights as a "threat" in April.

Earlier this month, a Polish campaign group said that around 30 communities, including villages and regional assemblies, had in recent months declared themselves to be "free of LGBT ideology".

February 20, 2019

Growing Up Gay in Poland Could Make You an Activist We Hope It Will!

Photo: Pawel Maczeweski

This article originally appeared on VICE Poland

Growing up, I felt embarrassed to say I was from Poland. Equality and tolerance are fairly foreign concepts in my country, especially when it comes to gay people. Now, though, I realize that the bad experiences I had growing up are what have driven me to fight for the future of Poland.

I was born in Poznań, a city of around 1.4 million people; my family lived on the outskirts of town for about ten years before we moved away. I often go back to see my grandparents, visit my favorite anarchist bookstore, ZEMSTA (Revenge), and to attend the annual Potato Festival. I do love potatoes.

I was in Year 6 when I realized I was gay. When I came out to my mum, she replied, "Oh yeah, I know." It was a bit harder for my father to accept – though, eventually, he was fine with it. My family life seemed to go a lot smoother after I came out to my parents.

Unfortunately, life wasn't so easy at school. For the longest time, it felt like my strict primary school in Poznan was focused on teaching me ways to avoid discovering myself or the world. The school focused heavily on patriotism and gender norms. Watching my male friends trying to chat up girls – especially the way the guys seemed to force themselves into the girls' lives – just looked violent to me. Since coming out at school didn't seem like an option, I decided to get a girlfriend, and even maintained a relationship for half a day.

Soon after my short-lived faux-romance, I came out publicly, and from there my life became very hard. I was attacked and beaten up badly – a reminder that, in Polish society, it's rarely a good idea to stray from the perceived norm. Luckily, my mother removed me from that school.

In Warsaw, I went to an amazing multicultural high school named after Jacek Kuroń – a former opposition leader in the People's Republic of Poland. My new classmates insisted on always reassuring me of their tolerance – some would even go as far as saying they had always wanted to meet a gay person. I understood that by assimilating in this way I risked becoming their token gay friend rather than just being a normal person who happened to be gay.

Before moving to Warsaw, I'd probably read about four books in my entire life. But thanks to my new school's broad curriculum I was introduced to amazing works on sexuality, history, and revolution. Access to a wide range of reading materials taught me about activism and ways we can fight for a society that operates differently. Those books didn't offer a way for me to escape the outside world; it was the complete opposite – they were tools I could use to define myself within my community and country and raise my social awareness. I didn't feel so alone anymore.

One of my teachers got me into philosophy, and I was later invited to take part in the Philosophy Olympics – a national philosophy competition that has been running for 30 years, offering the winners academic support if they choose to study the subject further. As part of the competition, I wrote a critique of the anti-Marxist philosopher Leszek Kołakowski. To my complete shock, I was selected as one of the winners. We were invited to an event where the former mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Walz, would be handing out the prize. The problem was, the mayor had never shown any support towards the LGBTQ community; every year she was invited to Warsaw Pride, but she never accepted. For the first time in my life, I was presented with a real opportunity to use my platform to speak out on an important issue.

My initial plan was to disrupt the ceremony by wearing a balaclava and waving a rainbow flag, but my philosophy teacher was right to talk me out of that plan – though I still intended to be heard. So when I got to the microphone at the ceremony, I turned to the deputy mayor – Hanna hadn't shown up – and explained that, as a gay person who studies and pays taxes in this city, and who will soon be working, I wouldn't feel right accepting an award from someone who hasn't shown any interest in protecting the interests of the gay community. 

I'm now studying at the University of Warsaw (UW), where a group of far-right campaigners turned up one day on campus to hand out fascist propaganda. In response, some friends and I created the Student Antifascist Committee.

These elements have always been in our country – it's just that the current ruling party, the right-wing Law and Justice, has given license to other fascist movements. My friends and I were determined not to allow bigotry to spread at our university. 

Our committee is working to fight all instances of hate crimes that take place at UW, starting with denouncing the fascist literature that was spread across campus and blocking the leader of the far-right National movement, Robert Winnicki, from speaking on campus. The government wants to tighten the anti-abortion law so we will oppose the introduction of any pseudoscience into curriculums that aims to support their efforts. We're ready to blockade faculties and campuses and shut down the whole university if needed.

Still, we need to reach out to more like-minded people at UW and educate them on why they should be engaged and how to organize. Traditionally, Polish politics is boring, alienating and often repugnant. It was what I grew up with all those years ago in Poznań, trying to fit in in my ultra-conservative school. Today, my friends and I are trying to offer a true alternative that will change Poland and the world.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

September 5, 2018

In Poland a Group of Right Wing Nationalists Destroy LGBTQ Display Street for Pride


Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

A group of men believed to be right-wing nationalists descended on an LGBTQ street fair in Poland, ripping up rainbow colored umbrellas and frightening those in attendance. 
The event was organized by Lambda Szczecin, a local LGBTQ organization, on Sunday, less than two weeks before Szczecin is set to hold its first ever Pride. A video posted to the Facebook page for a documentary called Artykuł Osiemnasty (Article 18), about the lack of marriage equality in Poland, shows three men, who are described in the caption as “National Patriots,” destroying property and getting into a verbal altercation with a man who confronted them for their actions. 
The video asks anyone who recognizes the homophobic bigots to come forward with information. Lambda Warsaw shared a picture from the event after the hooligans began their destructive and chaotic action, calling on everyone to attend the Pride event on September 15.
“We will be there with our huge rainbow flag,” the post reads. 
“We will also help to ensure the safety of LGBT people in Szczecin,” it goes on. “At the end of September, we will conduct training for violence victims from West Pomeranian and surrounding areas. It will increase the number of places where LGBT people can safely report violence.”
In addition to not being able to marry, same-sex couples in the country also cannot adopt, and there are no protections against discrimination in housing. Violence against the LGBTQ community has reached such a level in Poland that Amnesty International has urged the country to take hate crimes there seriously.

June 12, 2018

The Turnout of Gay Pride in Not Gay Friendly Poland Defied Expectations

 Warsaw 2018 Pride


WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The capitals of Poland and Romania hosted festive gay pride parades that attracted thousands of people Saturday, as emboldened participants vowed to keep pushing for the eventual freedom to marry the person of their choice.

A party-like atmosphere prevailed at the parade in Warsaw as people waved rainbow flags and danced. Some had signs and T-shirts with messages of tolerance or sass, including one of Russian President Vladimir Putin holding a rainbow.

The celebratory mood could not be subjugated even though same-sex marriage has no real chance of being legalized under Poland’s current conservative government. 

“The worse the political atmosphere, the better the atmosphere at the parade,” observed Michal Niepielski, 55, a radio technician from Krakow.
Niepielski judged Saturday’s turnout to be bigger than for last year’s parade. He attended the event with his partner of 14 years, Wojtek Piatkowski, who called the high spirits a “backlash” against the Polish government. The couple wore matching rainbow suspenders and bow ties.
In the Romanian capital of Bucharest, the rights of same-sex couples also took center stage during a gay pride parade that came days after a major ruling in a marriage case.

The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg ruled Tuesday that two men — one Romanian, the other American — are entitled to the same residency rights as other married couples in the European Union.

While the ruling doesn’t oblige individual EU member countries to legalize same-sex marriages, it could presage rulings in other pending cases that LGBT rights advocates would consider favorable.
Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia are the EU countries that don’t legally recognize same-sex couples.

Before the parade, choreographer Emil Rengle wanted fellow Romanians who oppose same-sex relationships to know, “We love differently because God created us differently.”

In Poland, the “Equality Parade” festivities got underway Friday night, when a temporary art installation shined a rainbow created with water and light for four hours in downtown Warsaw.
A record number of gay pride marches — 12 — are scheduled across predominantly Catholic Poland this season, including in five cities having them for the first time. Some of the new locations are considered conservative strongholds, like Rzeszow and Opole. 

“People are fed up with feeling like they are under a boot and being trampled down. And they are reacting, they are organizing, they are resisting,” said Hubert Sobecki, president of Love Does Not Exclude, a group working for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Poland.
A record number of foreign ambassadors to Poland — 52 — signed an open letter of support for LGBT rights, up from 42 last year. They included the ambassadors of the United States, Canada, Britain and Turkey.
There were reminders that the cause is not embraced by all. In Poland, a retail chain that sells books and music, Empik, changed its logo for the day into a rainbow. It sparked a heated debate online, with some vowing to boycott the business.

A small group of counter-protesters showed up in Warsaw, but police kept them away from the parade. Romanians who consider homosexuality to be a threat to society rallied in Bucharest before Saturday’s gay pride parade.
New Right movement leader Tudor Ionescu said the parade was “a disgrace, a slap on the cheek of a Christian capital.”

Participants in the opposition rally called for a referendum to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Romania’s marriage law currently defines marriage as a union of spouses, which gay rights opponents say could open the door to same-sex marriages.
Orthodox Christian monk Ciprian Timofte said homosexual activity, which was decriminalized in 2002, should be outlawed again in Romania.


Alison Mutler contributed to this story from Bucharest

May 29, 2018

This Gay Mayor Changing The Status Quo in Catholic Poland

 Robert Biedron is one of Poland's young, rising political stars. He's an atheist in perhaps Europe's most Catholic country and its only openly gay politician. And now he is being viewed as a frontrunner for Poland's presidency.
Robert Biedron in his mayor's garb in Slupsk
 Robert Biedron was Poland's first openly gay MP before becoming mayor of Slupsk

"I'm a dreamer. I was born in a very traditional, conservative part of Poland. I am gay and being an atheist, it wasn't easy for me," says Mr. Biedron, mayor of Slupsk, a city about 18km (11 miles) from the country's Baltic Sea coast. 

He is being talked about as one of the leaders of a new progressive political movement that is being organized. 
A former Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, has urged him to run for president in 2020. Opinion polls put him third behind the popular incumbent, Andrzej Duda, and the ex-prime minister and current European Council President, Donald Tusk. 

'Beaten up on the street'

Robert Biedron has made his political career to date seem surprisingly easy. A left-wing former gay rights activist, the 42-year-old became Poland's first openly gay MP in 2011 and then Slupsk mayor in 2014. 
"As an MP I was beaten up four or five times on the street," he says. 
Robert Biedron with his partner"Now, they are all smiling at me and greeting me." Several minutes later a man does exactly that. The mayor points out that a few years ago things would have been different. 
"They would probably have said 'You faggot', or they would spit at me. Today, they say 'Good Morning Mr. Mayor' and this is a sign of change."
Robert Biedron has been with his partner for years and has had an impact on how Poles view homosexuality
Image captio
Polish attitudes to homosexuality are evolving but gay marriage is still outlawed, unlike in many Western European countries. That's galling for Mr. Biedron, who as mayor marries many couples. 
"I'm extremely jealous because I see their happiness. I'm 15 years with my partner and it's still a dream. It's not fair that in 2018 two adults cannot get married if they love each other and are committed to each other," he said. 

Conservatives in charge

Poland is governed by the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which in 2015 became the first party since communism ended in 1989 to win an outright majority. And for the first time no left-wing party got into parliament. 
PiS won on a platform of conservative, patriotic and Roman Catholic values, married to anti-elitism and state support in the form of increased child benefit, subsidized housing and free medicines for senior citizens.  Since then, the government has infuriated many liberal Poles by consolidating control over the public media, civil service, and prosecutors. 
Its reform of Poland's judiciary prompted the European Commission to launch an unprecedented rule of law investigation, amid concerns that democracy was becoming endangered. The measures hand the PiS-dominated parliament, the justice minister and the president more power over the selection of judges. 
Officiating at weddings is an important part of Robert Biedron's role as mayor
Wedding photoDespite this, PiS easily remains Poland's most popular party. That is not the case in Slupsk, a city of more than 90,000 in north-western Poland. 
"Poland is not only devoted to a conservative, populist, authoritarian political party," says Mr. Biedron, who has taken a pay cut, reduced the city's debt by tens of millions of zlotys, boosted spending on education and social housing and is building a new theatre. 
He has also taken a red sofa out onto the street to chat to constituents.  
Is Poland ready for a gay leader?
His critics say he has no real programme and is mostly about PR stunts. Renata Kim, a journalist for the Polish edition of Newsweek, believes he may have difficulty extending his local popularity nationwide. 
"I think it's too early for an openly gay politician to become an important figure in politics," she argues. 
"We are a very conservative society. People are not ready to accept such a person as their president or prime minister," she adds. 
He has however had an important impact on attitudes to homosexuality in Poland. 
"I saw him speaking to young people at a music festival and he was just a hero, he was a star. They listened to him like they would listen to a prophet and this was for me a sign that homosexuality is becoming a normal thing in Poland."

June 4, 2017

Thousands March in Gay Pride Poland After Conservative Gov. Gives Ok

Deutsche Welle

 Thousands of the LGBT Community Enjoy and Make their statement in Poland

Up to 50,000 people have marched in Warsaw in support of gay rights. Out of 49 European countries, Poland is 37th on a scale of support for LGBTQ rights. "Homophobia causes heart illness," one banner read.

The 17th annual 'Equality Parade' took place as Poland's conservative government continues to oppose civil unions for same-sex couples. 
Organizers put the number at 50,000, while the police said 13,000 attended the parade, with 40 foreign embassies, including those of France and the US, expressing their support.
The parade was intended to "draw attention to the rights of LGBT people, fight discrimination and promote acceptance of same-sex unions," with people also marching in support of people with disabilities, religious minorities other marginalized groups, the organizers said. 
Poland's constitution is one of seven in the EU to ban gay marriage and the country is one of six in the 28-member bloc not to allow same-sex civil unions.
The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland came to power in late 2015 on a ticket of promoting traditional Polish values, family and Catholic traditions.
he government has been attacked by the EU and other international institutions for its alleged attacks on democracy in Poland, in particular accusations it has politicized civil service, media and other areas of public life, while also undermining the Constitutional Tribunal.   
Love thy neighbor?
"Men who live with each other, will not inherit the kingdom of God," read a banner held by a woman standing on the sidelines of the parade, the daily Gazeta Wyborcza reported.
Kateetan, a 28 year-old gay Catholic told the newspaper the woman holding the banner told him it was impossible to combine faith with homosexuality. "She believes that homosexuality is a sin, but she does not believe that children should be stoned or wear clothes made of a single thread," he said.
In an open letter, the assembly of Catholic bishops in Poland asked Polish Catholics not to participate in the parade, claiming that advocating for LGBTQ issues was "falsifying the church's unchangeable teaching.”
Right-wing groups tried to disrupt the march route. 
Inconducive conditions
In January, President Andrzej Dudea said that the country's constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman, adding that the governing majority will unlikely change the law.
Duda, asked whether it is likely that international organizations, various lobby groups, but other European countries could force Poland to accept gay marriage, said: "I do not think that the political majority today would agree to any amendment to the constitution, water down this clause and open interpretation that marriage could also include other genders.” 
Little progress expected
Tomasz Basiuk, who directs the Institute of the Americas and Europe at University of Warsaw, told DW that little or no progress can be expected from the government on LGBT rights, or women's rights.
It is even likely that existing rights will be curbed should PiS yield to pressure from lay and clerical Catholic fundamentalists and from right-wing nationalists whom it is not so coyly courting, he said.
The previous PiS-led government of 2005-2007 dissolved the office for gender equality. A decade later, the post - restored by the PO (Civic Platform) government - is now filled by conservative appointees, Basiuk adds.
"PiS is more likely than was PO to be pressured by the Catholic church, especially by its dominant fundamentalist wing, to further restrict access to abortion or to make teaching about homosexuality illegal. It is the openly xenophobic rhetoric that most clearly separates PiS and PO, and that has made the greatest difference so far to women's rights and to the vulnerable LGBT community," Basiuk said. 
The only occasions when the Warsaw gay pride, called the Equality Parade, was banned was in 2004 and 2005, during the late Lech Kaczynski’s term as mayor. In 2005, a right-wing youth organization, the All-Polish Youth, planned what they called "Parada Normalności," or "The Normalcy Parade.

June 12, 2016

Thousands March in Poland and Croatia’s Gay Pride


Thousands march for gay rights in Poland, Croatia photo

Thousands march for gay rights in Poland, Croatia photo

Thousands march for gay rights in Poland, Croatia photo

Several thousand people marched Saturday in colorful gay pride events in Italy, Poland and Croatia urging support for minority rights in the mostly Catholic nations.
The parades in Poland and Croatia come amid mounting right-wing sentiments that pose new challenges to gay rights activists. In Italy, however, the gay pride celebration comes after lawmakers granted some legal rights to same-sex couples.
Balloons and flags in rainbow colors marked both the Equality March in the Polish capital of Warsaw and Zagreb’s Gay Pride event while participants at the parade in Rome were more daring, baring a bit of skin in some cases.
In Zagreb, former interior minister Ranko Ostojic and several well-known public figures joined the event dubbed “Croatia is Not Over Yet.” Ostojic says “I am glad to be here today, this is my Croatia.”
Liberals have warned that Croatia has been tilting to the right under a conservative government that took over in January. Similarly in Poland, there are concerns for minority rights under a right-wing government that took office in November.
Police secured both marches.

December 2, 2014

Polish Voters Elect the first Gay Mayor

Polish voters have elected the country’s first openly gay mayor. Robert Biedron won a runoff election over the weekend with 57 percent of the vote in the northern city of Slupsk, the local election commission said.

Biedron, a member of the Your Move party, ran as an independent in Slupsk, a city of about 100,000 people near the Baltic Sea, taking on a candidate from the governing right-wing Civic Platform party, which has opposed gay rights in the past. In 2011, Biedron, a political scientist by trade, made national and LGBT rights history by becoming the EU member state's first openly gay member of parliament - the same year that Poles voted in Anna Grodzka, the country's first transgender lawmaker.
"When you really want something, you can move mountains," the 38-year-old, who had campaigned on the slogan "Change, finally," told reporters after his win on Sunday.
Though many also know Biedron as a gay rights activist, he drew broad appeal by promising citywide free Internet access and emphasizing energy efficiency. Earlier this year, the national news weekly Polityka listed Biedron, who plans to commute to the city hall on bicycle, as one of Poland’s 10 best lawmakers. 
'Optimistic and happy'
Ninety percent of Poles identify as Roman Catholic, though fewer and fewer currently head for the pews on Sundays. When Poland joined the European Union in 2004, the capital, Warsaw, still banned gay rights marches and media and society largely treated homosexuality as a taboo topic.
Since then, acceptance of gay men, lesbians and transgender people has grown, if slowly. Warsaw successfully hosted a pride event in 2006, though that act itself continues to draw homophobic protesters even as the event itself grows and the country becomes less-known for anti-LGBT discrimination than it was in the past decade. 
"I see how fast Polish society has learned its lesson of tolerance," Biedron told The Associated Press news agency in an interview two days before Sunday's run-off election. “So I am very optimistic and happy with Polish society - and proud."

Polen Politik Anna Grodzka
In what the media called "the Biedron effect," a number of other candidates came out publicly before the nationwide local elections, which took place in two rounds over the past two weeks. None of the others won seats, but rights activists still found their willingness to come out encouraging and speculated that their overall showing was poor because the mostly young candidates had short political CVs and ran as members of smaller center-left parties that had little support.
mkg/mg (AFP, AP) 

October 12, 2014

“Suddenly we noticed that Russia has an ugly face” NATO German General


{adamfoxie} Poland, which neighbors the Ukraine and remembering the lessons of WWll whereas the invasion of Poland by the Germans ( 1939 ) was the match which ignited the fuse of the war and after the war was over Poland was handed over to the then Soviet Union as a prize for fighting the war where it remained as a satellite and bumper zone for the soviets (until 1991) with the excuse that the Soviets were there to defend Poland from another invasion from Germany when West Germany had been transformed into a partner of NATO (the only fear in the region came from the soviets which already kept the eastern half of Germany as a war price for help in defeating Hitler) and western security fear from an ever menacing bear which had no second thoughts in sending in troops and tanks like it did in Chekoslovakia when the Cheks decided they had enough of the Soviets. That insurrection to liberate the Cheks was over before it started.

Now with Putin saying Russia is a free country  and wants to be in harmony with its partners and neighboring nations with one side of his face, while with the other he drives his troops further into the Ukraine. He has given no excuse now why he persists when all his other imaginary reason have been put out on the open and have evaporated.

Exercises in the area NaTO’s Poland have now includes other nations, including the US, Canada and Britain on the invitation of Poland.
Military exercises over the last month are meant to prove NATO’s resolve. But Putin’s “little green men” and his “ambiguous assault” strategy still have it in a quandary.
 {Leo Cendrowicz of the Daily Beast} Poland—The serenity of this town in Poland’s gorgeous Masurian lake district was about to be shattered. As F-16s roared from one end of the horizon to the other, they dipped to bomb a grassland strip. The blast was a stupefying white flash followed by a body-shaking howl, and it was the cue for a maelstrom of metallic shrieks. Rockets zipped out from behind the trees; tanks from Poland’s 12th Mechanized Division rumbled into view; and helicopters hovered over the melee. 
Surveying the drama from a podium a quarter mile away was Polish President Bronisław Komorowski and a phalanx of army chiefs from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This was the climax to Anakonda-14, a military exercise involving some 12,500 troops from Poland and eight other NATO countries, and everyone there looked on attentively. But the big question, of course, was how closely Russia watched from afar.
The war game that ended earlier this month was staged at a crucial time: Russia’s infiltration of Ukraine—annexing Crimea and supporting rebels in the east—has alarmed central and eastern Europe. And it gave this Anakonda a sharper bite than those that have gone before. 
“We all see what has happened in Ukraine,” said Lukas Wasko, a lieutenant from Poland’s 5th Artillery Regiment. “It makes our exercise today feel more real.” 
Indeed. Exercises like Anakonda are just one obvious example of the way the Ukraine conflict has jolted NATO into action. Originally a solely Polish exercise, the rest of NATO was invited to take part after the Ukraine crisis erupted: 750 soldiers eventually joined Anakonda from the United States, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Hungary, as well as Lithuania and Estonia. Anakonda takes place over ten days in four main sites across Poland, and Orzysz, in the northeast, is just 35 miles from Kaliningrad, the Russian enclave in the Baltic region. 
Regional fears over Russia’s threat have not been diminished by the uneasy and often breached September 5 ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and pro-Russia rebels: with shelling continuing around Donetsk, in the east, it is clear that the conflict is far from settled. “Russia’s actions affect everyone taking part in the exercise,” says NATO’s Danish Brigadier General Torben Dixen Møller, serving as the Deputy Commander for Anakonda. “The lesson we learned is to increase our readiness and responsiveness.”
Poland, right on Ukraine’s border, has been particularly bullish, demanding a tough NATO response to Russia. In her inauguration speech as Poland’s new Prime Minister, Ewa Kopacz said on October 1 she would request a U.S. military presence in the country. She also announced that her new government would raise defense spending from 1.6 to 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product from 2016. 
“The events in Ukraine have significantly changed our approach to security,” Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told the Daily Beast. “We have a military conflict raging next to the Polish borders. The history of Poland teaches us that peace in the world is not a given. And Poland’s citizens expect us to do everything to ensure Poland’s security.” 
The broader NATO response has been to bolster its presence among its eastern members, including Poland and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In June, U.S. President Barack Obama announced plans for a $1 billion European Reassurance Initiative to increase U.S. military deployments to Europe. At last month’s NATO summit in Newport, Wales, the alliance’s 28 leaders agreed to upgrade the NATO Response Force (NRF), a 25,000-strong multinational rapid reaction section to adapt to the new model of hybrid warfare seen in Ukraine. And within the NRF, a 4,000-strong high-readiness spearhead force is being designed to move within 48 hours to, say, Poland or the Baltic states.
 The message from top NATO officials has been stern. When former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg took office as NATO Secretary General on October 1, he made it clear that Russia's intervention in Ukraine challenged Euro-Atlantic security. “NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia. But we cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which our alliance, and the security in Europe and North America rest,” he said. 
It was no accident that Stoltenberg’s first overseas trip since assuming his duties, on October 6, was to Poland. “We need to keep NATO strong, we need to help keep our neighborhood stable,” he said after visiting Poland’s Lask Air Force Base.
Military exercises are an important part of the response. In September, some 2,000 NATO troops from nations including the U.S., Canada, Britain and Italy took part in several exercises in eastern Europe, including one in Ukraine itself, as part of a beefed-up military presence.  
This is partly about reassurance and deterrence. But there is a practical aspect too. As combat operations in Afghanistan wind down, so too does the main driver of NATO defense cooperation. American, British, French, German, Italian, Polish, Turkish and other troops showed how well they could work together in Afghanistan, and officials say military exercises are needed to continue these valuable interactions and exchanges. Philip Breedlove, NATO commander-in-chief, says this represents a shift, "from engagement to preparedness."
Then there is the challenge of “ambiguous assault,” the undeclared guerilla activities that Russia appears to have pioneered in Ukraine. For many, this is a new kind of warfare, applying subversion, agitation, political demonstrations and cyber-attacks—all lashed together with a virulent propaganda campaign. The “little green men,” the soldiers with Russian equipment and evident Russian training but no Russian insignia who have lead the agitation in Ukraine epitomize this approach to warfare. 
Much of the talk in Anakonda was about how to deal with such a challenge. Major Eric Taylor from the Illinois National Guard's 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, part of the U.S. contribution to the exercise, described it as one of the most frightening aspects of military service. “We faced these issues of combatants without insignia in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “When you see that, the hairs go up on the back of your neck because you know something is not right. You need eyes at the back of your head.”
  NATO has yet to make clear how it would respond to such tactics. Would Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty be invoked, whereby an attack on one is taken as an attack on all? Pauline Massart, Director of Security & Defence Agenda, a Brussels-based think tank, says NATO is still struggling to adapt to Russian tactics. “The new methods are evolving at warp speed and I don’t think NATO is ready,” she says. “However, there is at least a sense that security is back on the agenda with a vengeance.”
There are other questions about whether all NATO members are committed to the mission. Washington regularly complains that Europeans fail to pay their fair share of the collective defense bill: 24 out of 28 NATO members spend less than the alliance’s defense guideline of 2% of GDP. Many members also have aging equipment, including Poland. Indeed, one of the loudest, if not the most effective, weapons showcased by the Polish in Orzysz is the Neva W-125, a surface-to-air anti-missile system originally developed by the Soviets in the 1960s. 
One of the biggest worries within NATO concerns Germany, where contract mishaps have delayed prestige projects like the Eurofighter jet, the Puma tank and A400 Airbus transporter planes. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has pledged that Germany will play a much greater military role on the international stage, but on October 6 she admitted the country was, "going to have some work to do," to rectify equipment problems.
Still, Ukraine has given NATO a new sense of purpose, according to Erik Brattberg, Resident Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. “That said, underneath the surface differences in threat perception and how to deal with Russia persist,” he says. “Going forward, NATO must invest more in building local capacity in the Baltic states and other vulnerable allies in areas such as intelligence and information sharing, cyber security and energy security.”
In Orzysz, visiting German General Hans-Lothar Domröse admitted that Ukraine is testing NATO. “The invasion of Crimea was a wake-up call,” he said. “We had been too optimistic, convinced that such violations could no longer happen. Suddenly we noticed that Russia has an ugly face.” But Domröse, who is also the Commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command in Brunssum, Netherlands, insists that the alliance has always risen to its challenges. “It has been a reminder of our core defense role at NATO. We have to adapt and we will adapt.” 

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The Food Delivery/Ride Companies Wont Allow Drivers to be Employees But California is Changing That

                               Hamilton Nolan Senior Writer. After a monumental...