Back in February 2023, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki remarked that “It is quite visible that the center of gravity has moved here to Poland and other countries in Europe.”
Morawiecki, basing his statement off of Poland’s justified suspicion of Russia, was referring to Warsaw’s resurgence on the European continent in lieu of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It was as recently as April 2023 that Morawiecki described Warsaw and Washington as the “two poles of Western Civilization” when he met with Vice President Kamala Harris. And it is with remarks like that in which we see a flourish of truth behind Poland’s claims.
Some data suggests Poland could be a powerhouse too.
At the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Poland welcomed their Ukrainian cousins with open arms. Over 1.4 million refugees were welcomed and hosted by Poland.
At the outset of the war, Poland was also a strong voice against Belarus, Russia’s invasion accomplice.
But Poland’s callout of aggression to the East isn’t their only diplomatic triumph. Morawiecki has framed his pro-American stance on some very firm historical grounds. Morawiecki noted that “Old Europe believed in an agreement with Russia” and failed. Poland’s stance is not mere rhetoric however, as Warsaw has been a rigid and consistent pursuer of NATO standards as it pertains to GDP spending and the mutual defense pact under Article 5.
Diplomatically, Poland has poised itself as a key partner in Euro-American relations while others — like France and Germany — have aspired to working with other partners in some regards. Germany, for example, only recently committed itself to the aid of Ukraine and was initially hesitant to write of Moscow due in part to their dependance on Russian gas.
Of all 31 members of NATO, only 7 meet the alliance’s goal to spend 2% of GDP on defense. Poland — along with other former victims of Russian aggression like Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — is one of those seven.
So while Poland meets its NATO contribution, it is not the full extent of Poland’s military successes in recent years.
Poland has been modernizing its force by investing in new technology — better armored vehicles, a better air defense system, new service rifles, and the purchase of Fifth Generation aircraft.
Additionally, Poland’s military might is a product of its diplomacy, as agreements with the United States have seen more joint training, joint exercises, and additions of permanent US bases in Poland.
As of 2019, Poland’s economy has been growing steadily for 29 years. One of the most successful post-Soviet states, Poland has a high-income economy that ranks 22nd worldwide when looking at PPP.
While Poland still does have an economy based on the service sector and some agriculture, their investment into industry is growing with exports in machinery, electronics, and plastics.
Whether or not Poland will be one of future Europe’s leaders is uncertain. If anything else, Morawiecki has framed Poland’s future off of some solid foundations; economic liberalization, expanded foreign policy, revitalization of Western relations (true Liberalism).
And it seems that much of this has been spurred on by the Russian threat to the East. Morawiecki stated that “And after the fall of communism, Russia lay in wait for nearly three decades. But the resurgence of Russian imperialism is a harbinger of a new Cold War.”
So while many in Europe have turned their gaze from deeper relations with the US — and while our adversaries in Russia and China are unifying goals — it is refreshing to see so much alignment from Warsaw.
What do you think? Is Poland’s self-stated rise to glory overhyped, or does Warsaw have the potential to be a defining player in Europe? To that end, is Poland where the US should look for long-term partnership in Europe?
Let me know in the comments.