Following a spat over Ukrainian grain swamping European markets, Poland has stopped the export of any further war materials to Ukraine in their war against Russia.
Warsaw may not be considered to be a major military power in the eyes of most casual readers, but Poland has for many years now been one of the largest per capita spenders on defence. The Poles have shrewdly invested heavily in modernising their military and indigenous arms industry, through both procuring equipment form foreign suppliers and also from acquiring licensing rights to produce equipment domestically.
Over the next number of years, Poland has agreements with South Korea to buy or produce a thousand main battle tanks, over 80% of which will be built in Poland, and with the US to provide nearly 300 Abrams, alongside already significant inventories of Leopard 2s and upgraded Soviet-era battle tanks.
Germany by contrast has about 300 Leopard battle tanks in total, significant numbers of which are mothballed and dysfunctional. Alongside fielding F-16s and contracts to procure FA-50s and F-35 fighter jets, Against a lackluster Germany and declining France, Poland is without a doubt a pre-eminent military power in Europe.
It is this significant investment in their military capacity on a consistent and regular basis that has given the Polish the ability to be major early movers in the war to supply the Ukrainian army with war material – Poland has provided more hardware than any other NATO country aside from the United States, including Soviet fighter jets, hundreds of battle tanks and fighting vehicles, artillery and ammunition.
Polish defence planners foresaw the likelihood of Russian expansionism and were responsible for a significant amount of the training of the Ukrainian military after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 – training which is arguably the reason that the Ukrainians stuffed the Russian advances in the north and north-east in 2022.
It could be argued that without Polish support in the early stages of the war, Zelenskyy’s regime would have fallen, the bravery shown by Ukrainian nationalists in the likes of Mariupol and outside Kyiv notwithstanding the material reality of warfighting.
As Ukraine’s advance falters in the east, as Western stockpiles dry up, and now their strongest proponent grows tired of the abuse for not allowing their farmers to become impoverished, it is a very real possibility that Ukraine might not see out this war as Western hawks may want, particularly if Russia secures Iranian missiles and North Korean ammunition to supplement its still vast reserves of materials.
Even should the war end tomorrow upon static lines however, it is unlikely we will see most Ukrainians going home to re-settle their country – there’s very little for them to go back to, and why go back when the Irish government is willing to break its back to accommodate you?