Poland is a Bulwark of European Security

March 6, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Tags: PolandNATORussiaRussia-Ukraine WarVladimir Putin

Poland is a Bulwark of European Security

If NATO wants to grow stronger, it needs to strengthen its Eastern Flank not only with troops and equipment but also with infrastructure and manufacturing facilities.

Poland now spends 4 percent of its GDP on the military, double the benchmark established for NATO countries. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, given the incurably bellicose nature of one of our neighbors.

We have been acutely aware of the Russian threat for a long time. In recent years, we have reinforced our deterrence capabilities, modernizing the Polish armed forces. We have striven to achieve complete energy independence, weaning ourselves off imports of Russian gas. We have also significantly bolstered our cyber defenses (Poland ranks first in the 2024 National Cyber Security Index as the world’s leader in cyber threat prevention).

The primary goal of all these measures is to avoid another Bucha, this time on the outskirts of Warsaw.

Russia’s genocidal aggression against Ukraine has only accelerated Poland’s efforts to beef up its own security and proven several countries in Central Europe right in their assessment of Vladimir Putin’s malign, neo-imperial ambitions.

We are adamantly and consistently boosting our military spending not because we harbor misgivings about NATO’s credibility. On the contrary, we firmly believe in the sacrosanct character of the Washington Treaty (and its crucial Article V), and we have trust in our allies. We have no doubts whatsoever that if need be, they will all bravely and unconditionally defend Warsaw, Tallinn, and Prague, as we are ready to defend Berlin, Paris, and Helsinki. NATO is now more robust, more united, and more secure than it used to be ten or twenty years ago. NATO is a nuclear power, and Russian conventional forces are no match for ours.

Moreover, with the addition of Finland and Sweden, the alliance has not only expanded physically. If you look for a genuine Putinversteher (“Putin-understander”), you will find them in Scandinavia. They understand Putin as he should be understood.

Nevertheless, Poland is arming itself. Why? Because we want to lead by example and encourage our NATO partners to adhere to their commitments and increase their own defense budgets accordingly.

In blunter terms, we cannot rely solely on sophisticated command and control systems, advanced communication networks, servers, and laptops. NATO needs more hardware: tanks, fighter jets, helicopters, armored vehicles, mortars, drones, and much more ammunition.

Since its inception in 1949, the North Atlantic Alliance has been an entity of a military and political nature. For decades, particularly following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, the organization’s economic dimension was largely neglected. With the passage of time, some NATO members became addicted to raw materials imported from Russia. Western companies invested heavily (and recklessly) in the Russian Federation, a state that was persistently violating human rights, persecuting opposition, and murdering dissidents.

Even after the wars in Chechnya, the invasion of Georgia, the annexation of Crimea, and the atrocious intervention in Syria, former heads of governments and ministers from NATO countries were eager to accept lucrative job offers from Gazprom, Lukoil, and Rosneft. Meanwhile, Russia successfully enhanced its clout in European economies, establishing a vast web of sinister business ties.

Thankfully, it is changing now, slowly but steadily. The West’s economic “alliance” with Russia must eventually and irreversibly be terminated, while NATO countries should ramp up industrial cooperation. 

Poland, naturally, will play a vital role in this transformation. As a country that shares borders with Belarus, the Kaliningrad exclave, and Ukraine and possesses a robust industrial base that hosts scores of defense companies from the United States and Europe, Poland is predestined to become a regional hub for military production. In this context, Poland’s geographical location, as well as its extensive network of road and rail connections, is of critical importance. As is our expertise in logistical operations, acquired and honed over the last two years of the war in Ukraine.

If NATO wants to grow stronger, it needs to strengthen its Eastern Flank not only with troops and equipment but also with infrastructure and manufacturing facilities. It’s logical, cost-efficient, forward-looking, and the best possible investment in the security of the Free World.

Marek Magierowski is the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United States of America.

Image: Shutterstock.com.