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Michał Baranowski is a senior fellow and the director of GMF's Warsaw office, where he provides overall strategic direction and leadership for the organization’s work in Poland, the Baltic states, and the V4 countries. He writes and speaks extensively on NATO, transatlantic relations, and U.S. foreign policy, and is frequently quoted in outlets such as Associated Press, Financial Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Die Welt, Rzeczpospolita, Reuters, Axios, Le Soir, Washington Post and Foreign Affairs. He publishes in Polish, American, and European media and policy journals. He is a member of the Polish-German reflection group established by presidents of Poland and Germany. He holds a master's of European public affairs from Maastricht University, and has studied at Mercer University in the United States and the University of Oxford.

Media Mentions

If Germany’s zeitenwende is successful, it could be the most consequential change in European security architecture and thinking in a few generations at least.
The Baltic states used to be considered indefensible in conventional terms. Now the defenses will be much clearer. Finland and Sweden will be right across the sea to bring military reinforcements. Deterrence around the Baltic Sea will certainly improve.
Meanwhile, Italy could provide a model for tackling oligarchs: the country has a long history battling the mafia, seizing illicit assets to combat organized criminals.... They created legal instruments that lead to seizures, which has happened with Russian yachts. But I have not seen any of them being sold and put into a fund. That is what would have to happen.
Bringing Sweden and Finland [into NATO] makes our alliances more secure and military confrontation with Russia less likely, even though it’s clear that Russia, of course, will not like this.
I think both the West—and Russia—overestimated Russia's military capabilities. From Putin's perspective, this war was supposed to have lasted only a few days. Now it's clear that Putin will not reach its main political objective of having Ukraine and Ukrainian people be part of Russia's sphere of influence.
It’s a war next door. And on top of that, it’s the Russians who are causing this suffering. In the end, these people are being killed by our enemies.
We are still more likely than not to see Russia's escalation in Ukraine and certainly the continued destruction of Ukrainian civilian lives. That said, if Russia is indeed considered a defeated power in this war, it would very likely mean the end of Vladimir Putin—as president, at the very least.
Poland will assume the role of the Federal Republic of Germany during the Cold War. ... From the US point of view, Poland had turned out to be a not entirely reliable partner by making the conflict public instead of resolving it behind closed doors.
When President Biden first talked about his vision of a confrontation between autocracy and democracy, for many people it sounded a little bit theoretical. But now we in Europe are experiencing a real front in that war, and that gives a very clear and understandable reality to this existential fight [Mr. Biden] has been talking about.
I don’t know if there is any other country to have received such a succession of the highest-ranking US officials. It shows how important Poland is as a kind of bridge to and from Ukraine.
The war is pretty much at a stalemate. Russia was hoping for a quick victory, basically a Blitzkrieg, a quick run to Kyiv with a hope to frankly decapitate the Ukrainian government in the first few days. They failed to do it and so the tactic and strategy has changed into a really grueling, grinding war.
The question that NATO and the US face is how quickly they can shift from a posture that previously relied largely on deterring Russia through political engagement to a more robust military approach. US forces are still key, because NATO allies in the east see them as far more of a deterrent to Moscow than troops from other European countries and because Russia itself would see any move against NATO as more risky.
The biggest question is not how much public support there is [for Belarusian involvement], but how much room for manoeuvre Lukashenko has versus Putin, and how much he’s entirely a puppet. If he is, that would be the scenario where we could see Belarusian forces as part of Russian military.
I'm very skeptical that the current round of talks will end Russia's war in Ukraine. This war has never been about Ukraine's NATO membership for Vladimir Putin. I'm concerned that from Russia's perspective the talks are meant to buy time for the Russian military to regroup.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said right from the start that this is not only about Ukraine. He told us what he wants to do when he was listing his demands, which included the change of the government in Kyiv, but he was also talking about the eastern flank of NATO and the rest of Eastern Europe.
If the Americans came across as pushy and twisting Poland’s arm, then the Poles came across as unpredictable to the Americans. This is a scratch on this very shiny new Polish-US relationship, but I don’t necessarily think that it is going to be a very long or persistent scratch.
Both here in Poland and in NATO headquarters, we take the possibility — perhaps intended or unintended — some level of escalation or spillover seriously. We think it unlikely, but so many unthinkable things have already happened.
Vice President Harris in Warsaw will have a chance to address and smooth over this misunderstanding by clarifying that the US doesn't expect Poland to take an undue risk in organizing the MiG transfer alone.
Supplying Ukraine with MiG-29s will likely be seen by Russia as a significant step up in military help for Ukraine. No one NATO country should be put under pressure to do it alone.
In the event of a Ukrainian military defeat, there will certainly remain forms of guerrilla warfare in the country. Poland could then, according to researcher, serve as a rear base for these fighters.
Translated from French
Although Poland could create up to 40,000 additional temporary spaces in a matter of days, it is only effectively able to house 3,500 refugees.
[Europe should do more to assert itself, but not through] a parallel track of negotiations with Russia, but by creating additional defense capabilities, by being clear on sanctions, by being proactive. That’s what we need from Europe as a whole.
I'm in Kyiv and as these new talks in Geneva began, it was very clear from every politician, citizen and foreign policy expert here, that Ukranians are eager to find a solution.
Poland got what we finally wanted when we joined NATO, which is allied and American troop presence on our soil — to finally bring NATO deployments beyond Germany.
For Putin, the only thing that is important is the seat at the high table with the US and not with some pesky Europeans, as the Russians see us. And he's getting that.
You have zero guarantees that Russia would keep its promise of not escalating further...This is what major wars in Europe were made of, that kind of way of thinking.
It would be detrimental if Poland, Romania, and other eastern flank countries were excluded from the talks. The reaction would be very negative and it would send a clear signal to Russia that, look: if you need to talk about European security, don’t worry about what those pesky central Europeans are thinking, you just have to talk with the big powers.
For Lukashenko, the episode helped to distract some of the attention from the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus after he stole last year’s presidential election.
We all should be very worried, to be honest, I do share this assessment... This assessment is shared by many here in Warsaw and in Washington, D.C. We are seeing very significant buildup in threats on the border with Ukraine. So it’s really a key moment for the West to step up pressure against Putin.
The concern on the government side, and this is why they’re so firm, is that if there is even a process to let people in, this will create a narrative that this is a place where people from Iraq and Syria can be processed into Europe, and the numbers won’t be 4,000, as now, but 30,000.
Generally [Angela Merkel] was seen as someone who understood central and eastern Europe. I think she's leaving as Ms. Nord Stream 2, from the Polish perspective.