South Korean Tanks for Poland: A Slap in the Face for Germany
Poland is gearing up for war: faced with the looming defeat of the West and NATO in Ukraine, Poland aims to massively expand its army. A colossal arms deal between Warsaw and Seoul has the potential to make Poland one of the strongest NATO countries after the US and Turkey. Warsaw has signed a contract to purchase 1,000 K2 Black Panther tanks from South Korea – a slap in the face for Germany, which has previously supplied Poland with Leopard 2 tanks. The tank purchase is just another step in Poland’s comprehensive militarisation and the escalation of the war in Ukraine.
Berlin in Warsaw’s Eyes: Too Hesitant and Unreliable
Warsaw justifies its decision to act against Berlin by arguing that delivery times from the neighbouring country would be too long and that it is disappointed with Germany’s hesitant delivery of tanks to Ukraine. Poland, on the other hand, has been instrumental in establishing a ‘tank coalition’ to supply Ukraine with tanks from the US, UK, France, Germany and even the Polish army itself. Furthermore, Warsaw questions whether Germany would even be a reliable partner in the event of a direct confrontation with Moscow. The contract, worth more than 15 billion euros, includes the delivery of 150 K2 tanks by 2025 and 212 K9 self-propelled howitzers, intended to replace the howitzers supplied to Ukraine. Up to 650 self-propelled howitzers are to be delivered to Poland in total. Additionally, Poland has already supplied Ukraine with a significant number of such weapons from its own military inventory. From 2026, a version of the K2 tank adapted to Polish requirements, called K2PL, is to be produced in Poland, meaning the majority of the tanks still need to be built and are not immediately available.
Warsaw Escalates: New Aircraft for Poland, Soviet Aircraft for Ukraine
Poland has also expanded its air force by 48 fighter jets, having promised all of its Soviet-made aircraft, except for former East German aircraft from Germany, to Ukraine. It has already delivered an initial batch. Although Slovakia has also provided aircraft to Ukraine, the aircraft exchange initiative or the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine has not progressed beyond talks. However, it is undeniable that Poland plays a key role not only in NATO’s rearmament in Europe but also in the militarisation of Ukraine. For now, Warsaw is letting this assistance be paid for with Western money, but soon with Ukrainian territory as well? Is that why Warsaw is so eager for war?
Intermarium and Commonwealth: The Old dream of a Great Power
Like many former great powers, Poland under the transatlantic-conservative PiS party seems to be plagued by phantom pain: the dream of the former great power of Poland, fuelled by the 400-year union with its neighbour Lithuania, which held German and Russian expansionist ambitions in check from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century. At the height of Polish power, the influence of Polish nobles reached as far as Moscow. It was only when the noble republic grew increasingly unstable and embraced a liberalist-revolutionary constitution, inspired by French and American examples, that Poland-Lithuania was identified by Prussia, Russia, and Austria as a menace to established Christian monarchies. Consequently, the Polish partitions were enacted, leading to the gradual removal of Poland-Lithuania from the map. Although Poland received the German eastern territories after 1945, the PiS government apparently considers Poland not big enough. The ‘Intermarium’ initiative, promoted by Washington and Warsaw, which aims to promote an alliance of countries between the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, and the Adriatic, can be seen as an attempt to revive this geopolitical bloc and maintain it as a battering ram against Russia or a threat scenario against Germany.
Warsaw’s New Colony? Poland’s Grab for Galicia and Increased Investment in Ukraine
Since the escalation of the Ukraine conflict in February 2022, Poland’s aspirations towards Western Ukraine have become increasingly apparent. Furthermore, with the support of the United States, Poland has managed to expand its influence over Kiev. In July 2022, President Zelensky enacted legislation that granted Poles unique privileges in Ukraine, such as eligibility to be elected president. Moreover, Polish investments in Ukraine are at an unprecedented level, with the PIE Economic Institute projecting that these investments will reach 30 billion US dollars by 2028. During an early April visit to Warsaw, Ukrainian President Zelensky even suggested that there would be no borders with Poland following Ukraine’s triumph. As the war continues, Ukraine becomes increasingly reliant on Poland and the West, leading some political analysts to argue that Kiev has been reduced to a colony under Warsaw’s control. This dependency, however, comes at a significant cost: Polish weapons are already in Ukraine, and as Polish patriots claimed during a demonstration in Warsaw, Poles are ‘dying for Bandera’.
To Nuclear War? How Far Will Warsaw Go to Achieve Its Great Power Ambitions?
The pinnacle of this escalation strategy lies in Poland’s ambition to participate in NATO’s nuclear sharing arrangements. Jacek Siewiera, the security advisor to Polish President Duda, has indicated that Poland is prepared to accommodate nuclear weapons on its soil. Should this come to pass, Poland’s audacity and overconfidence could potentially lead the world into a nuclear catastrophe. As a result, it is crucial to support those who advocate peace and patriotism in the region.