“From the strong position of Poland in support of Kyiv from the first day of the war, we can see how the country will be able to overcome its two biggest geopolitical obstacles. Poland has always been between empires, flattened between hostile forces on all sides. As the most startling examples are the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, when Prussia, Russia and Austria divided Poland among themselves, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact at the beginning of WWII, when the USSR and Nazi Germany did the same,” this is written in an analysis of topic “How Poland profits from the war in Ukraine”, writes BGNES in its analysis.
In the 21st century, the situation is not very different. Poland is a member of the European Union and NATO, which places it in the family of the most developed countries in the world. After Britain’s exit from the union, it can undoubtedly be said that it is completely dominated by the two strongest economies in it – France and Germany.
It is also no secret that Paris and Berlin want to centralize the union. This puts Poland very often in a position where it is under pressure from these dominant figures in the EU. Poles are often portrayed as “bad” and “not sharing European principles and norms”. This can be seen in Poland’s policy on refugees from the Arabian Peninsula: it has been heavily criticized and demonized due to the fact that it follows a different policy to that of France and Germany.
This pressure is accentuated when one looks at the situation in the East. Poland is a NATO border, which puts it directly opposite the Russian Federation (we accept the reality that Belarus is an extension of Moscow). The extreme anti-Russian position of Warsaw can be seen with the escalation along the Polish border with Belarus, where thousands of refugees from the Middle East are transported with promises that they will go to Europe via Poland. This is a clear attempt by Russia to destabilize Poland and the EU as a whole. This strong opposition not only to the current Russian Federation, but also to the legacy left by the USSR, very often leads to accusations of Russophobia even by its Western allies.
Since February 24, an intensification of these trends has been seen. There is no need for further arguments as to why the Poles were worried about Russian military aggression. But the actions of France and Germany in these moments of crisis prove the historical precedent of the Polish nation. French and German interests had the most to gain from preserving the pre-war order in the Ukraine; this is also evident in the way they act after the start of the invasion: the dozens of talks between Macron and Putin, the calls to end the war as soon as possible, the uncertainty of Olaf Scholz, the erratic supply of weapons and the strong Russian influence in both countries.
“One bullet – two rabbits”
After almost a year of conflict, Poland is hitting with “one bullet two birds with one stone”. Brussels’ criticisms of the rule of law, refugee policies and abortion seem hypocritical. Poland endures the largest wave of Ukrainian refugees, provides the entire logistical base for the delivery of humanitarian and military aid to Kyiv, supplies a large number of its own military equipment and shows an unrelenting readiness to defend the EU and NATO. In this context, accusations against Warsaw from Western Europe sound completely groundless, while it defends European unity with actions. This contrasts with the “leading” powers in Europe.
Paris and Berlin did not provide as many heavy weapons as Poland. This is not particularly commendable for countries that want to be the leaders of Europe and do not actively invest in its defense. In particular, Germany’s dependence on Russian energy sources has made it a weapon of the Kremlin in the EU. This enabled Poland to come to the fore in these moments of crisis; the obvious hypocrisy of the “hegemons” turned Warsaw into a unifying point for the countries of Eastern and Central Europe.
NATO countries from these regions (with the exception of Hungary) sided firmly with Kyiv in the conflict and united around the anti-Russian core centered on Poland. The increasing insecurity and discontent in these parts of Europe towards Western Europe (as the latest example is the blocked path of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen) gives Poland additional impetus in its struggle for influence in the EU. This victory over Germany and France becomes abundantly clear when dealing with the United States and Great Britain. Leading the anti-Russian position, Poland became one of the most important allies of London and Washington.
This trust is direct evidence of the growing influence of Warsaw and the declining influence of Paris and Berlin. An example of this is the Polish army’s huge purchases of military equipment from South Korea, the USA and Great Britain, but more on that in a moment.
Russia’s suicide in Ukraine directly works to Poland’s advantage. Russia is a historical enemy of the Polish states, and now, unlike in the past, Poland does not have to do anything to defeat its enemy. Russia is getting weaker by the day, it is effectively demilitarized in Ukraine, it is isolated diplomatically, its economy is under sanctions and its national prestige is completely shattered. Poland’s eastern border has been quite quiet since the start of the war, waves of migrant attacks have completely ended because Moscow is fully focused on Kyiv.
This allowed the Polish government to strengthen its border, but more importantly, it gave Poland a chance to increase its influence in countries that are in Moscow’s sphere of influence, such as Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is held in practice by the power of Russia, as it declines, his regime also loses. Poland’s active support for the government-in-exile of Svetlana Tsikhanowska may suggest good relations between the countries after the possible fall of Lukashenko.
Besides the tarnished name of Germany and France and the declining power of Russia, there are two other aspects which have strengthened Poland’s position in Europe since the beginning of the war. Mateusz Morawiecki’s government enjoys very warm relations with Italy’s new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. Continued good relations between the countries will win Warsaw a new ally in the EU. This could be key to laws being pushed by France and Germany.
Last but not least is the strong fraternity between Poles and Ukrainians. The two countries have an extremely complicated past, from wars to accusations of mass war crimes. All this, however, seems to have remained completely in history. While Ukrainians are fighting at the front, they know that their families are safe in Poland. This is reinforced by the great empathy, hospitality and integration of the refugees from the Poles.
Such fraternal bonds, forged in the hardest times, remain for generations to come, until old enmities are completely forgotten. This commitment will carry over into the post-war period, when we can expect Polish construction companies to take the lead in the reconstruction of Ukraine.
The winged hussars of the XXI century
The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 prompted NATO countries to try to strengthen their defense posture by acquiring additional armaments. For no country is this more true than for Poland, which has embarked on a military shopping spree unprecedented in modern European history. So far, this has included the purchase and planned purchase of 1,000 K2 tanks, 672 K9 artillery units and 288 K239 salvo launchers from South Korea, as well as 366 M1 Abrams tanks and 92 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the United States.
She also purchased 3 Arrowhead 140 frigates from Great Britain. At the same time, domestic arms manufacturers are to provide the Polish armed forces with almost 1,500 infantry fighting vehicles, hundreds of artillery pieces and unmanned aerial vehicles.