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Poland: Growing military investment is making heads turn

Updated: Mar 4

In 2009, geopolitical expert George Friedman published “The Next 100 Years”, offering his perspective for geopolitical developments in the 21st century. A country that plays a huge role in the European theatre of developments is the Republic of Poland. According to Friedman, Poland - the chosen stronghold for the US military in Europe - will be the crucial power facing Russia’s “collapse” in the 2020s and the growing strength of Turkey. Thus, Poland is predicted to be on course for huge geopolitical power and influence.

14 years later, Friedman is being proven right as the growth in Poland’s military expenditure, especially since 2015, has placed the country on a course to become Europe’s new superpower.

The reasoning behind the Polish Government’s policy of bolstering the already world-renowned armed forces is clearly because of Russian aggression; unlike western powers such as the US, Germany, France or the UK, which have only began rearming in the 2020s, Poland has been well aware of the threat since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. This has been the driving force behind Poland’s accession to NATO (1999) and to the EU (2004) - clear steps that have been taken to rapidly strengthen the Republic in military, security and economic terms.

Many Poles, particularly those supporting the Law & Justice Party in power, cite the words of late President Lech Kaczynski in Tbilisi, prior to Russia’s attack on Georgia (2008):

“We know very well : today - Georgia, tomorrow - Ukraine, the day after tomorrow - the Baltic countries (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia) and then perhaps, the time will come for my country - Poland”

Kaczynski’s landmark speech provides an insight to the Polish perspective of the War in Ukraine and perhaps why the country did not bat an eyelid when tasked with taking in millions of refugees, rallying support and providing strategic aid to their friends in Kyiv. This perspective is that Ukraine and its defence is crucial to Poland’s national security as well.

The Putin regime has already made hostile steps towards Polish borders, as seen in Belarus’s hybrid war to try and undermine the Polish-Belorussian border in 2022. As a puppet regime for Russia, there is no doubt that such action took place with instruction from the Kremlin.

This is the current geopolitical crisis Poland is in. Therefore, military investment is not a matter of national pride and strength, but an absolute necessity to assert the sovereignty of Polish borders and territory.

According to the ITA, Poland spends “2.2%” of GDP on defence and has moved forward the goal of increasing spending to “2.5%” from “2030 to 2024.” This is a greater commitment than the UK and certainly higher than Germany - which only just considered the idea of equipping and advancing its armed forces last year, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz announcing that Germany will meet the 2% NATO target in February 2022.

Poland’s increased spending and defence investment has been seen in two particular areas:

1 - A $4.6 billion purchase of 32 American-made F-35 fighter jets in January 2020, as reported by the US embassy and consulate in Poland. This deal will provide the republic with the foremost fighter jet in the Western world, which will be crucial particularly in the Baltic theatre, where Russia’s foothold in Kaliningrad threatens the city of Gdansk - Poland’s trading hub and only built-up access point to the sea.

2 - On the 28th of June, the Polish Defence Minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, attended the arrival of the first 14 of M1 Abram tanks purchased by Poland. The $4.7 billion deal includes 116 Abrams tanks, the rest of which will arrive in the years 2024-26. This purchase was crucial to Poland’s territorial defence given that its older soviet model tanks were handed over to Ukraine.

As it can be seen, Poland’s landmark investment has so far been focused on defence of territory and airspace.

These developments are sure to make heads turn in Europe, with French President Macron pursuing a policy of European independence from the US. However, Poland has assured that when it takes over the European Presidency in 2025, it will go directly against the frankly idealistic vision of the French President and tighten the relationship between the US and the EU.

Considering future developments for Poland and its increasing status, it is worthy to note that President Duda has been very openly pressing for Poland’s accession to NATO’s nuclear sharing programme. The programme’s members include Germany, Italy, Belgium and Turkey as of 2009 and it is where NATO countries have US ballistic missiles stationed on their territory and have influence on their use.

It is reported that Poland is indeed in talks with the US about the potential of possibly joining in this decade. Such considerations would have been made more serious and concrete by the news that Belarus will begin receiving ballistic missiles from Russia.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Poland’s military investment and strategic value for the US is hugely relevant to the current conflict in Ukraine as well as the wider conflict between Poland and Russia.

Such developments are certainly worth keeping an eye on for those interested in geopolitics and international relations.

Image: Notes From Poland

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