By Benedek Sipocz

The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted the foreign and security policies of numerous countries around the world, especially within the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Poland is no exception. Being one of the biggest supporters of Ukraine and being in very close proximity to the war, Poland’s attitude and response to the war are reflected in the country’s foreign and security policy. First of all, the war has intensified and deepened Poland’s commitment to transatlantic relations, especially with the United States. Second, Poland’s active and leading response to the war has increased the weight of the country as an international and regional player in diplomatic and military efforts to support Ukraine and bring an end to the war. Moreover, the processes started in Poland well-before the outbreak of the war, such as increasing defensive capabilities and push to decrease dependence on Russian energy have come to be embedded in more and more countries’ national policies. The war, however, has negatively affected Poland’s relations with Hungary.

Transatlantic Relations 

The response of the United States to support Ukraine in face of its invasion has been positively welcomed in Poland. Over the last decade, as the United States pivoted its foreign policy attention to Asia to focus more on the rise of China, Poland interpreted the changing orientation varyingly. From one perspective, the Pivot to Asia has been viewed with worries about decreasing American focus on European security, and therefore, that of Central and Eastern Europe as well. From another perspective, it has been viewed with optimism about the United States’ strive and commitment to maintain the balance of power by focusing and checking the rise of a great power. The latter perspective also created an expectation that the United States will have a similar commitment to Europe in case of increased tensions with the Russian Federation. The response of the United States to the war in Ukraine has reaffirmed such expectations. The American support for Ukraine, therefore, besides contributing to Poland’s own foreign and security policy’s focus on its Eastern neighborhood, also demonstrated the United States’ commitment to European security, in particular to that of Central and Eastern Europe.  

Poland’s commitment to support and being in close proximity to Ukraine, has made the country a vital partner of the United States, and of other NATO members in supporting Ukraine. The territory of Poland, therefore, has become a hub for weapons deliveries. Weapons – and humanitarian goods – on their way to Ukraine first arrive to Poland, and then are transported to Ukraine. In addition to playing a critical role in the distribution of weapons headed to Ukraine, Poland has provided a significant amount of weaponry, making it one of Ukraine’s biggest supporters. Overall, Poland supplied almost 3 billion Euros worth of weapons to Ukraine, as well as various humanitarian goods. Besides providing weaponry, Poland has also been among the most active in the European Union in calling for and lobbying for sanctions against the Russian Federation. Moreover, so far almost 8 million refugees have crossed into Poland since the outbreak of the war. 

The war in Ukraine has once again reaffirmed to Poland, that the Eastern neighborhood poses the greatest challenge and risk to its security. It is for this reason that Poland has decided to further increase the boosting of its defense spending and increase the size of its armed forces. On one hand, Poland has decided to increase their defense spending to 5 percent of their GDP. Prior to the war in Ukraine, Poland spent around 2.2 percent of the GDP on defense spending. As an initial response to the war, Poland decided to boost defense spending to 3 percent. The increase to 5 percent shows Poland’s ultimate goal and commitment to strengthening defensive capabilities. Once reached, spending 5 percent of the GDP on defense would make Poland the biggest defense spender within NATO in proportion to GDP. Poland has also decided to increase the size of its armed forces to 300,000 people from the current roughly 130,000 people.

The boosting of Polish defense capabilities is a policy supported by both Warsaw and Washington. Both the Polish and American governments are interested in increasing the defensive and deterrent force of Poland, and thus, of NATO’s Eastern Flank. As the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki argued, the Polish armed forces have to be so strong as to deter an enemy with its strength alone. Having a strong and capable armed force, therefore, not only serves to increase the ability to defend Polish and NATO territory, but to actually prevent an attack from taking place by deterring it. 

Boosting defensive capabilities

To enhance the capabilities of its armed forces, Poland has been purchasing weaponry since well-before the war in Ukraine. The war, however, gave the process a new impetus. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Poland has increased the speed of new weapon purchase deals. 

As one of the foundations of Polish foreign and security policy is the maintenance and enhancement of transatlantic connections, as expressed in relations with NATO and the United States, Poland’s procurement of weaponry falls in line with such foundations. An element of the aforementioned pillar is having a permanent American base in Poland, and thus having boots on the ground. To make its armed forces as compatible as possible – and further develop relations – with that of the United States, Poland has been purchasing American weaponry for quite some time. Ultimately, having compatible armed forces with the United States ensures an easier task for Polish diplomacy to seek a permanent American military base on the territory of Poland. Compatibility also enhances the ability to potentially fighting side-by-side. 

With the procurement of new weapons gaining momentum since the war, Poland has announced new defense purchase deals. For example, Poland has a new deal with the United States to purchase 250 Abrams tanks. The purchase of the Abrams tanks comes as Poland donated 240 of its Soviet-made T-72 tanks to Ukraine. Overall, currently, Poland has around 20 billion USD worth of sales cases with the United States, under the Foreign Military Sales mechanism. These include the famous High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), F-35 aircrafts, Javelin anti-tank missiles, Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), and others. It is clear, therefore, that the procurement of weapons from the United States plays an important role in the relations between the two countries, and in both countries’ foreign and security policies. 

Besides buying weapons from the United States, Poland has also signed new weapons purchase agreements with South Korea. The reason being to diversify the importers, and to scale up the level of weapons procurement, as South Korea is promising a fast delivery of the orders. Poland’s deal with South Korea includes various weapons, for example, FA-50 fighter jets, K2 battle tanks, K9 self-propelled howitzers, and K239 rocket launchers. South Korean foreign and security policy has also been focusing on a close alignment with the United States in cases of an armed conflict with North Korea or China, where its armed forces would fight alongside American forces. This led to South Korean weapons being designed to be compatible with American weapons. The compatibility with American weapons and systems is, therefore, also an attractive attribute to Poland, whose foreign and security policy also places a large emphasis on defensive cooperation and compatibility with the United States. 

Moreover, as the next phase of the process of procuring new weapons, Poland has also contracted Saab AB, a Swedish aerospace and defense company to design, manufacture, and deliver two signals intelligence (SIGINT) ships for Poland. The ships, which are planned to be delivered in 2027, will contribute to Poland’s ability to gather data about naval activities. 

Independence from Russian gas 

Historical traumas, fears of uncertainty over future gas deliveries, and the halting of gas deliveries in 2005-2006 have led Poland to start the process of decreasing dependence on Russian energy well-before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Over the years, Poland has built the Baltic Pipe, connecting the gas fields of Norway to Poland via Denmark. The pipeline, which became operational in October 2022 transports 10 billion m³ of natural gas to Poland each year. The volume of gas imported through the Baltic Pipe, replaces the volume previously imported through the Yamal pipeline. Deliveries through the latter were suspended in April 2022, after Poland refused to pay the Russian Federation in Rubles for the deliveries. In fact, with the Yamal pipeline delivering no more natural gas to the country, Poland is no longer importing gas from Russia, thus becoming independent from Russian gas amongst the firsts. 

Besides building the Baltic Pipe, Poland has also built an LNG Terminal on its coast, in Świnoujście. The goal being to diversify gas imports and create the ability to import non-Russian gas. Today the terminal in Świnoujście is able receive 6.2 billion m³ of gas yearly, which after finishing of the expansion will increase to 8.3 billion m³ of gas yearly. Besides the expansion of the Świnoujście LNG Terminal, Poland is also designing the construction of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) terminal near Gdańsk. The FSRU in Gdańsk will be able to receive, process, regasify and store gas. 

The Baltic Pipe, the Świnoujście LNG Terminal and the FSRU in Gdańsk ultimately all contribute to Poland’s ability to diversify natural gas deliveries. The aforementioned methods of energy independence decrease the possibility of disruptions in delivery, thus increasing Polish energy security. Besides contributing to Poland’s energy security, the three also contribute to the Central and Eastern European region’s ability to decrease dependence on Russian gas. Being a substantial contributor to the region’s effort of decreasing dependence on Russian gas makes Poland a driving force behind achieving the RePowerEU initiative. Besides saving energy, increasing the scale of production of renewable energy, the plan aims to diversify imports to decrease dependence on Russian energy. 

Relations with Hungary

Although the previous processes of decreasing dependence on Russian energy, increasing defensive capabilities and further improving transatlantic relations had positive effects and increased Poland’s standing on the world stage, the war in Ukraine has also had negative effects. Due to a differing approach toward Eastern policy, disagreements over sanctions and response to the war, the relations between Poland and Hungary have come to be negatively affected. 

Although the current status of the relationship means there are less frequent and less visible consultations and cooperation bilaterally, or multilaterally within the Visegrad Group (V4), the countries remain to be close partners. Ultimately, as the pillar of having strong relations with EU member states to achieve economic growth and coordinate in foreign affairs – for example within the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) – is present in both Poland’s and Hungary’s foreign and security policy, the strategic partnership and cooperation between the countries will remain. Although such cooperation might not be as visible as it used to be before the war, the countries will remain important partners of each other in their approach to EU policy.


The war in Ukraine has reinforced and made processes set in forth by Poland before war – such as increasing defensive capabilities and decreasing dependency on Russian energy – part of more and more countries foreign and security policies. By starting these processes well-before the war in Ukraine and arguing for their importance, Poland’s international standing has increased. The country’s response in calling for and lobbying for sanctions, complemented by delivering weapons and humanitarian goods to Ukraine, made Poland one of Ukraine’s biggest supporters. Through this process – and by facilitating others to do the same – Poland has deepened relations with its international partners.

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