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This is as much about supporting Kyiv, as it is about ensuring that Moscow has no chance of regaining any momentum on the battlefield.
Both of the nations know all too well that a resurgent Russia could mean they’d once again fall under the sphere of influence of Moscow – as each had been for centuries.
Last week that Poland announced its intention to send a company of fourteen German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine.
However, it still needed permission from Germany to re-export them. German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck responded that Berlin would not block such a move, but that Warsaw first needed to make a formal request, Politico reported.
Poland has openly criticized Germany for dragging its feet on providing Western military aid to Ukraine.
“We hope that the producer of those tanks, Germany, will also participate — in my opinion, a very good idea,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday. “I was asked by [Ukraine’s President] Volodymyr Zelenskyy for that military support a few times. He said to me, ‘Andrzej, we need those modern tanks because it is the only way to stop Russian invasion.'”
Russia: A Colonialist Nation
Duda has been especially critical of Russia and suggested at the Davos conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin is essentially trying to restore the Soviet Union via the actions of a colonialist.
“Vladimir Putin wants to enslave Ukraine, he wants to expand his regime across the Ukrainian territory, [to] take away Ukrainians’ freedom. Why? Because Ukrainians decided they want to be part of the community of free nations. They want to be part of the European Union, they want to be part of NATO,” Duda told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick on Tuesday.
Duda, who grew up during the latter stages of the Cold War when Poland was still heavily influenced by the Soviet Union, likely also has personal reasons to distrust Moscow.
His grandfather fought in the Polish-Soviet War (1919-1921) and was later a member of the Polish Home Army during the Second World War.
Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has sparked concern as it would seem the first step in Putin restoring the old Russian Empire or the Soviet Union.
“Russia is basically behaving like a colonial country. It wants to colonize others, take away their freedoms, exploit their resources,” warned Duda. “It wants to juice other people’s potential, their economic potential, their natural resources. Today, that’s what’s happening in Ukraine. It would be the same for other countries.”
The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania all sought NATO membership – as did Poland – to ensure that they wouldn’t be once again under the control of a foreign government. Poland too has only existed as a modern state for just over a century.
“Poland was partitioned for 123 years,” Duda noted. “Parts of Poland were under Tsarist rule, so we’re perfectly aware what is happening. So that’s why we’re defending ourselves. If someone says ‘Russkiy mir’ — ‘Russian world’ or ‘Russian peace’ — we say absolutely no! Anything but Russia, anything but the Russian sphere of influence.”
Leopard 2: Bulwark to Russian Aggression
In addition to the Leopard 2 tanks that have been pledged to Ukraine, Warsaw has already supplied Kyiv with some 260 T-72 MBTs.
It isn’t just the hardware being sent to aid the Ukrainian military that is so noteworthy.
Warsaw has recently concluded a deal with Seoul to acquire a number of South Korean K2 Black Panther MBTs and K9A1 Thunder self-propelled howitzers, while another deal inked with Washington will see the Eastern Europe nation operating a number of M1 Abrams MBTs as well.
The first batch of South Korean military hardware arrived in the Polish port city of Gdynia last month. Per the terms of the deal, South Korean-based Hyundai Rotem will supply Poland with 180 K2 MBTs by 2025 – while the delivery will also include a training/logistics package along with ammunition for the tanks.
During the second stage of the framework agreement, Warsaw is expected to receive 820 K2PL tanks, which will be manufactured within a framework of the Polish-Korean industrial cooperation, while a broad transfer of technologies is expected to occur.
Poland is also on track to become the U.S. military’s most important partner in continental Europe.
The Polish government has announced it will raise defense spending from 2.4% of GDP to 5%.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.