Europe’s new military superpower? – Analysis – Eurasia Review

By Julian McBride

The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought a wind of change to Europe. A continent in which many states gradually reduced military spending after the Cold War, governments are now looking to remilitarize, realizing that the threat of Russian expansion will persist for the foreseeable future. One such European nation is Poland, which is now poised to become the largest and most sophisticated non-nuclear military power in Europe.

Poland’s sense of urgency stems from broken treaties and renewed Russian ultranationalism emanating from Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. The remilitarization of Poland is not only based on preparation for threats from the Kremlin, but also reflects a desire to no longer rely on verbal powers that in the past promised to protect Warsaw but failed to do so. never done.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Poland embarked on the largest purchase of US conventional arms shipments in history. In March, Warsaw signed a $4.75 billion worth of Patriot missiles, bolstering the country’s missile defense system.

As the war progressed in Ukraine, involving a massive barrage of MLRS and submarine-launched cruise missiles, Poland also requested six additional Patriot systems in late May. It was not the first major purchase for the country, which braced for the worst in February and laid the groundwork for its biggest ever tank purchase, ordering 250 Abrams M1 tanks from the United States.

As the geopolitical landscape shifted, with Russia seeking concessions through territorial annexation, manufactured starvation, and the militarization of European energy supplies, Poland continued to build up its defensive capabilities. This includes a major arms purchase from the South Korean military tech giant, including 180 K2 tanks to be delivered by 2024 and another 400 by 2030. Additionally, Poland has purchased 48 light attack aircraft FA50, 1,400 IFV and 670 plus K9 self-propelled howitzers. Defense Minister Blaszczak also said Poland would increase its active duty forces to 400,000 with an increase in defense allocations to 3% of national GDP.

Perhaps the main defense investment made by Poland was the purchase of 500 HIMARS from the United States. The MLRS system was a game-changer for Ukraine, with only sixteen systems reaching key targets such as fuel depots, ammunition storage sites and command and control centers. The HIMARS have also found a way to circumvent Russia’s infamous S400 anti-missile system, which could give NATO members an advantage in future conflicts.

This renewed willingness on the part of the Polish defense industry to prepare for the worst stems not only from the geopolitical evolution of Europe, but also from Poland’s history of being betrayed by superpowers that “promised” to protect the nation.

Russia’s attempts to leverage its favorable position in the energy and food supply chains to obtain concessions from the EU have placed Poland in a precarious position, as Ukraine is not only increasingly a close ally of Warsaw, but also a major buffer against Russian expansion into Eastern Europe. It should also be noted that Russia has escalated militaristic rhetoric towards Poland; for example, disrespecting the victims of the Katyn massacre and suggesting that the country should be next to be “denazified”.

While Western Europe has historically interpreted threats to Eastern and Central Europe as relatively minor and resolvable through diplomacy, Poles and many people in the Baltics still bear the scars of appeasement-style policies. Chamberlain.

Poland received assurances from the West and Russia of the country’s territorial sovereignty only to see Russian troops betray them and later forcibly incorporate Poland as a Soviet satellite. This process included the execution and murder of almost the entire Polish officer corps and the deportation of 1.5 million Poles to Central Asia. The Western Allies also betrayed the Free Polish Legions, not even recognizing them in the Allied Parade of 1945, thus strengthening Stalin’s hold over half of Europe.

Today, Eastern Europe will not be taken by surprise, as Polish defense capabilities also serve as a shield for the Baltic countries. Warsaw has consolidated its relations with Vilnius and supported the Lithuanian transit ban on Kaliningrad amid growing border tensions with Belarus. These large shows of support stand in stark contrast to some other EU powers, which have instead opted for appeasement. In addition to holding defensive capabilities to solidify a defensive line reaching the Baltic, Poland also ratified the permanent presence of the US 5th Army Corps and sought increasing ties with the British Army.

As many countries now seek to remilitarize in the face of imminent threats – Japan, Germany, Spain and the Baltics to name a few – Poland has come to the forefront of these efforts, positioning itself as the front line of European defence. With the tragedies of history still embedded in the collective memory, it looks like Poland will no longer be caught off guard.

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