The Increasing Number of Trial Balloons for Polish Intervention in Ukraine

By Conor Gallagher

For the better part of a year the Putin administration has been accused of using “twisted logic” to spread the “false narrative” that Poland might join the fight in Ukraine. Recall that Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev published the following map last year:

Well we now have an increasing number of signs that something of the sort is in the works. The Polish ambassador to France said in March that Poland would be forced to enter the war if Ukraine failed. The quote:

Therefore, either Ukraine will defend its independence today, or we will have to enter this conflict. Because our main values, which were the basis of our civilization and our culture will be threatened. Therefore, we will have no choice but to enter the conflict.

The Polish embassy in France later walked the statement back, but more signs are pointing to Warsaw’s growing role.During his recent trip to Poland, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky made the following loaded comment: “You have stood shoulder to shoulder with us, and we are grateful for it,” and he added the pledge that be “no borders in political, economic and – especially important – in historical terms” between the two countries.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was just making the rounds in the US where he criticized France and Germany and while visiting VP Kamala Harris at the White House and declared Poland the “leader of the new Europe” after the “failure of the old Europe.” More:

“Old Europe believed in an agreement with Russia and old Europe failed,” said the Polish premier. “But there is a new Europe, a Europe that remembers what Russian communism was, and Poland is the leader of this new Europe. Poland wants to become a bedrock of European security and we are on the right track.”

“Poland wants to build the strongest army in Europe, that is why we want to cooperate with the most advanced defence industry in the world, which is the American industry,” he continued.

Indeed, Morawiecki also met with US defense industry representatives to discuss financing the billions of dollars of Warsaw’s planned purchases of F-35 fighter jets, Abrams tanks, HIMARS artillery systems and Patriot missile launching units. Additionally, Morawiecki ​​announced Polish aims to become the “service center” for the US-made Abrams tanks in Europe.

A March 26 op-ed written by Dalibor Rohac, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, in Foreign Policy is titled “It’s Time to Bring Back the Polish-Lithuanian Union.”

Using the 700-year-old example of  when the ruler of Lithuania, Jogaila, married the child queen of Poland, Jadwiga, to create a political union between Poland and Lithuania that also included large parts of today’s Belarus and Ukraine, Rohac urges the following:

Fast-forward to the present and to the near future, however. Both countries are facing a threat from Russia. Today, Poland is a member in good standing of the EU and NATO, while Ukraine is keen to join both organizations—not unlike the Grand Duchy of yesteryear, eager to become part of mainstream, Christianized Europe. Even if Ukraine’s war against Russia ends with a decisive Ukrainian victory, driving degraded Russian forces out of the country, Kyiv faces a potentially decades long struggle to join the EU, not to speak of obtaining credible security guarantees from the United States. The poorly governed, unstable countries of the Western Balkans, prone to Russian and Chinese interference, provide a warning about where prolonged “candidate status” and European indecision might lead. A militarized Ukrainian nation, embittered at the EU because of its inaction, and perhaps aggrieved by an unsatisfactory conclusion of the war with Russia, could easily become a liability for the West.

Imagine instead that, at the end of the war, Poland and Ukraine form a common federal or confederal state, merging their foreign and defense policies and bringing Ukraine into the EU and NATO almost instantly. The Polish-Ukrainian Union would become the second-largest country in the EU and arguably its largest military power, providing more than an adequate counterweight to the Franco-German tandem—something that the EU is sorely missing after Brexit.

Timothy Less, lead researcher at the Centre for Geopolitics’ project on Disintegration Studies at Cambridge, believes Warsaw is trying to create breakaway NATO group with the “Bucharest Nine,” which is made up of Poland, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Slovakia. From Unherd:

Balkans expert Timothy Less calls this the “new Warsaw Pact”, which rather than defending Russia’s interests, seeks to protect central and Eastern Europe from the Russians. For Less, this is a strategy that echoes the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth born in the late Middle Ages, as well as the Intermarium, a fanciful plan by Polish leader Józef Piłsudski to form a superstate from the Baltic to the Black Sea after the First World War. Behind each of these alliances was a fear of bullying neighbours over the centuries — Prussia, the German Reich, Austria-Hungary and, of course, Russia.

Poland’s Eastern European alliance, according to Less, “would marginalise France and Germany, threaten the predominant position of the EU in Europe and galvanise its seeming slow-motion decline”. It’s a vision that will appeal to Eurosceptics across the Continent: a new era in which the US gradually moves its military resources from Germany to Poland, a growing hub of power and influence.

Biden met with representatives from the Bucharest Nine in Warsaw back in February in an attempt to rally them to the war cause. There are obvious divisions in the group, however, with countries like Hungary and Bulgaria questioning the war while Poland and the Baltic states are some of its strongest backers.

Another Foreign Policy piece from February is called “How Poland and Ukraine Could Undermine Putin’s Imperial Dreams.” This is written by Pawel Markiewicz, the executive director of the Washington office of the Polish Institute of International Affairs, and  Maciej Olchawa, the Kosciuszko Foundation scholar at Loyola University Chicago. It is filled with magical thinking and arrives at the same idea of Poland playing a key role in Putin’s downfall:

Poland knows that when given the tools and know-how, Ukraine will quickly shift from being a consumer of Western security to a critical provider of it for the Euro-Atlantic community. These like-minded anti-imperialists not only threaten to upend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revanchist drive once and for all but are accelerating the shift of Europe’s political and military center of gravity east, something that will redefine the European Union and NATO for decades to come. The West should prepare for contingencies following the fall of Putin’s empire—one of which is a postwar Europe underpinned by a Polish-Ukrainian strategic alliance.

Former Stratfor director George Friedman, believing that NATO was obsolete, was resurrecting this idea of an “Intermarium” all the way back in 2010. Highly influential in the DC policymaking circles, Friedman wrote the following in his “Geopolitical Journey, Part 2: Borderlands”

[A] US-backed Poland guarding the North European Plain, with Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania guarding the Carpathian approaches, would prevent what the United States should fear the most: an alliance between Russia and Germany plus Western Europe.”

This narrative that Warsaw will be the new European power center of NATO as it is taking some sort of courageous stand that the Germans, French, and much of the EU refuse to do is picking up steam.

The Wall Street Journal noted in February: 

Now, after Warsaw helped get Germany to agree to send Leopard 2 tanks following weeks of pressure, Polish officials are urging the U.S. and its European allies to jointly supply Ukraine with F-16 jet fighters, said Andrzej Zybertowicz, an adviser on the Polish National Security Bureau.

Poland is “an important defender of NATO’s eastern flank,” said Mr. Zybertowicz, adding that Poland’s forward position means it must act more boldly than other European allies, such as Germany.

“Poland has struck out on its own after decades of following currents within the EU because it now understands that following others in Europe is dangerous not only for Poland’s prosperity but for its very existence,” he said.

“Our red lines are practical in nature, [determined by] the operational capability of our armed forces,” said [Jacek Siewiera, the head of the country’s national security bureau]. “But if Poland would receive assistance from allies, in the form of backfilling process, we could still do more,” he said.

And from the Atlantic Council:

Polish leadership is helping to fill a geopolitical vacuum created by the declining influence of Europe’s traditionally dominant foreign policy forces. Britain voted to leave the European Union in 2016, greatly reducing the UK’s ability to shape Europe’s response to the Russian threat. Meanwhile, throughout his reign, Putin has demonstrated an ability to co-opt French and German politicians and businessmen with trade deals, pipelines, and other incentives. It is no coincidence that the Russian dictator handpicked Germany and France in 2014 to participate in the Normandy Format talks to end the war sparked by Russia in eastern Ukraine. This approach resulted in the failed Minsk Agreements and set the stage for the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Alexander Mercouris on his April 5 broadcast discussed the possibility of Polish involvement and detailed the hurdles hawks there are facing, which include

    • The Polish military is opposed to any confrontation with Russia as they have seen their weaponry destroyed by Russia on the Ukrainian battlefield.
    • Many members of the Polish military have already been killed in Ukraine and many others, fearing a confrontation with Russia, have deserted.
    • A lack of public support. Poland taking in so many Ukrainian refugees and importing Ukrainian wheat has damaged the market for Poland’s own agriculture, upsetting Polish farmers. (Warsaw has since suspended imports of Ukrainian grain.)
    • Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party  will soon have to face upcoming elections and would damage their chances with further involvement in Ukraine.

But rational decision making is in short supply these days.

Poland would, in theory, have a lot to gain from Europe’s center of gravity shifting eastward, which likely explain its visions of grandeur. France and Germany would have the most to lose. French President Emmanuel Macron seemed to be hedging his bets while in Beijing, declaring that the EU should not become “America’s followers.” A little late for that. Meanwhile, there’s a new trial balloon in the air:

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  1. digi_owl

    Funny how the weapons keep improving in its lethality, while humanity keep fighting for the same stale causes.

    1. .human

      Blood and treasure being literally exploded on battlefields while resources that would move humankind forward are shovelled into the pockets of those with no vision of coexistence.

  2. Paradan

    Poland aims to become the “service center” for all the horny American soldiers in Europe.

    fixed it.

    1. digi_owl

      Didn’t some USN sailors get in trouble in Sweden over that after they criminalized johns?

      1. fjallstrom

        Just last spring two sailors where indeed arrested. According to the papers they were arrested at the scene of the crime, and in questioning admitted what they were accused of. Sounds like a slam dunk.

        It has now been a year and there has been no further mention of it in the papers. So my guess is that they were discreetly dropped off at the pier and told to get on the ship and stay on it. Can’t let a bit of crime interfere with joining NATO.

    2. OIFVet

      Let’s hope that these couplings don’t produce progenies, there is enough stupid in the world already.

    3. Benny Profane

      I am reminded of the scene in Bananas when Woody Allen wakes up from a bad dream and proclaims, No more Polish women!

  3. OIFVet

    “Poland’s Eastern European alliance, according to Less, “would marginalise France and Germany, threaten the predominant position of the EU in Europe and galvanise its seeming slow-motion decline”.”

    Combine that quote with the quotes from all of the US MIC sources and we have proof that the US’ strategy is to sabotage the EU and that Poland and Ukraine are the vehicles for this strategy. The EU being founded on the premise that cooperation prevents war, we now have Rumsfeldian “New Europe” itching to war with even their putative EU allies. Nice! With friends like these one doesn’t need enemies.

    Poland is in for a rude awakening, though. Very few of the mentioned countries in the so-called “new Warsaw pact” would care to live under Polish supremacy and rabid craziness. Then, there is the little matter of Poland hitching its wagon to the US, an iffy proposition in terms of sponsorship as the US continues to decline and begins to face rather intractable internal social and economic problems. It will eventually again find itself surrounded by rather hostile and pissed-off neighbors.

    Poles, man, their genius for stupid is rivaled only by early 21st century US.

    1. kam

      My second wife, now of 25 years, was born in Poland. Her father spoke fluent Russian and mother spoke as if she was from Germany. And they made the best decision of their lives. Under hateful envy of their neighbors, they moved out of Poland.
      Signs all over the place in the north, previously Germany/Prussian lands, “this land is, and always was Poland.”
      Now Poland is whoring herself for the Americans, pushing Germany aside, saying no, no, let me service you. Completely forgetting Polish foolishness in believing Britain would save her from Adolf.
      Poland today, like the Brits of old, watching as the Romans pull back as the Roman Empire becomes completely undefendable.
      Neither the U.S. nor addled Europe can save Poland. Poland needs to stop barking at Russia before she gets swatted.
      Neither Poland nor Ukraine can accept that the land base they live on is SOLELY because of the Soviet Union.

    2. Ignacio

      I would try not to generalise in that way. It is not the Poles but the current Polish government controlled by the dangerous element called Jarosław Kaczyński if I remember correctly.

  4. OnceWereVirologist

    Pretty sure that the Bucharest 9 together don’t sum to Germany alone in economic terms – and that’s even if you are generous and make the comparison on the basis of PPP. So good luck making Eastern Europe the power centre of the EU on any terms other than as a stalking horse for US interests.

    1. Robert Hahl

      You are thinking about a past Germany that could afford to heat it’s buildings in winter, not actually existing Germany. Poland still has a lot of energy at its disposal.

      1. OnceWereVirologist

        Whatever economic headwinds that Germany faces in the future are not likely to be notably less severe in Poland. As of last year German nominal GDP was north of US 4 trillion, Polish around 700 billion. They catch up to a certain extent if you convert to PPP but energy and foreign weapon systems are priced in dollars and euro not zloty. What is this energy that Poland has at its disposal – coal ?

      2. Skip Intro

        Exactly. Germany lost the Nordstreams (mostly), while Poland gained a gas pipeline from Norway. They will be holding Germany’s choke chain in the New Europe.

        1. tevhatch

          The Norway Poland Baltic gas pipeline is relatively tiny and there isn’t the production capacity available in Norway to bother to increase it. It was not even enough to replace all the imports from Russia that Poland lost by refusing to purchase in ruble. Poland does have a lot of coal power, but that’s already running at max. It’s just started building nuclear power plants, but those won’t be online for another 7 to 10 years.

        2. Not Qualified to Comment

          Does add weight to the suggestions Poland might be behind the Nordstream explosions, tho’ they wouldn’t/couldn’t have done it without an OK from the US.

  5. OIFVet

    Good luck getting countries like Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania to agree to be put under Polish command in the first place. I think that most people outside Eastern Europe don’t realize just how disliked Poland is in the region. As an anecdote, I had talked with some BG vets from the Iraq war. The BG contingent had been under Polish command during the war and the sense I got is that the Bulgarians would have happily slaughtered the Poles. The Poles had treated BG forces as sacrificial lambs several times while running away from the engagements themselves. The venom and hatred towards the Poles was quite strong even almost 20 years later.

    In short: this new Warsaw Pact is dead on arrival.

    1. timbers

      Interesting. However, IMO the neocons have no interest in Europe/center of gravity/fill in the blank. Their only interest is lining up the next battering ram to smash against Russia and Poles seem to have the required IQ to allow themselves to become the next ram (in contrast I suspect the people of Taiwan if not her leaders can see thru US intentions and have no such desire). If so, those Dnipier bridges are looking like better and better military targets.

      1. digi_owl

        I guess a large difference is that Taiwan were founded by Chinese in “exile”, and thus while there are disagreements about politics they see themselves as the same people as mainland China.

        1. tevhatch

          DDP and US NGOs have been tampering with the schoolbooks for over 20 years. It’s a far harder sell than USA’s Nazi Branch of the CIA telling the Ukrainians that Bandera was right, they are the real übermensch. However let no one be surprised how easy it is to schism a people, just look at how the Blueblood lines in NY interbreed (or far worse, Savanah, GA), even when they’ve lost their wealth. The mentally weak are open to tales of their superiority, no matter how much it flies in the face of fact.

    2. DJG, Reality Czar

      OIFVet: Thanks. I wanted to comment that here in Italy the idea that the Poles would leave Nato, and probably the EU, would have widespread support. They are annoying, bigoted, foolish, and thoroughly ignorant of their own situation. Thanks for bringing up the “turd in the punchbowl” side of “Polish civilization.”

      The Gs originated in deepest, darkest Lithuania, although branches of the family claimed to be Polish, because in Chicago in about 1900, being Polish was much more classy. Lithuanians ate root vegetables and mumbled in that ancient, ancient language of theirs.

      So, not wanting to be politically incorrect, but: “Old Europe believed in an agreement with Russia and old Europe failed,” said the Polish premier. “But there is a new Europe, a Europe that remembers what Russian communism was, and Poland is the leader of this new Europe. Poland wants to become a bedrock of European security and we are on the right track.”

      What are the estimates from WWI? Three million Polish Jews perished? Three million Polish civilians?

      And none of their elites learned a thing. This is the very definition of ignorance. Further, for many years, I wondered why Buddhists insisted that ignorance is suffering. Well, now I know. The Poles want to visit suffering on Poland and on their neighbors.

      The Lithuanians, who are happy-go-lucky compared to the Poles and Latvians, are not likely to fall for a shot-gun marriage with their suicidal neighbors.

      But if Poland gets all self-serious about leading and leaving–I agree with you, OIFVet. They will get a heave-ho. Only the US of A and UK will believe their bluster.

      And I doubt that France and Germany have anything to lose with a Polish departure. Italy certainly doesn’t. (Considering that I had lunch with friends here in the Chocolate City yesterday and we discussed–throwing Poland out of the EU. What a coinkydinkski.)

      1. OIFVet

        It’s virtual impossibility to find a Pole who doesn’t yearn for the glory days of the 16th and 17th centuries. If we let the Poles decide our future, we will be lucky if our civilization is only rolled back to the stone age.

        Poles carry bigotry and russophobia like a highly contagious and incurable STD. I have a buddy who married a Polish girl. He had been rather russophobic before, but certainly within reasonable bounds. Now he’s a foaming in the mouth certified crazy, a liberal who advocates that Russia and Russians be erased from the face of the Earth, while calling Putin Putler completely unironically and withouta hint of cognitive dissonance. Too bad, as he is a rather nice and intelligent person outside of this whole pathology.

        Moral of the story: sex and cohabitation with Poles turns one’s brain to mush faster and more violently than syphilis.

        1. britzklieg

          I have a good friend who is Polish. Brilliant musician (pianist/composer), speaks 5 languages fluently (Polish, Russian, French, German, English). I was programmed to sing all of Tchaikovsky’s baritone songs one summer at the (classical) Newport Music Festival and he coached me. thoroughly and indispensably, on both the music (style) and the language (Russian being one I had never conquered on my own). Deep down he has a good heart, so I was absolutely shocked when he started spewing vitriol about Russians and everything Russia, indeed, it harmed our friendship. He seemed to admire the great Russian composers and could play all the fiendishly difficult piano works of Rachmaninov, a task that must have taken an enormous amount of time and commitment, but once the music stopped there was nothing but contempt and outright racist hatred. I understood the history behind his views, but not the bile. Very sad that.

          …and then there’s Chopin…

          1. AG

            that´s sad.

            But whenever I hear such story – re: artists (I am in the arts myself) & politics – I have to think of Heydrich.

            Why should artists of all people know a thing about politics?

    3. hk

      About 10-15 years ago, I was surprised to hear how much my Lithuanian contacts hated the Poles: at least these Lithuanians would rather have sided with Russia than Poland. I still don’t know how representative they were, but given the messy history between Poland and it’s neighbors, I don’t think a new Intermarium has much chance.

      1. DZhMM

        Sadly, the intervening 15 years of brainwashing have left their mark in Lithuania. While Poland is still recognized as the worst kind of neighbor, now Russia and Belarus have come down to that same level in general opinion.
        What was forced one way, though, can move back once the pressure is released. Sooner or later, the political contours will change, and our neighbors will still be speaking Russian. We’re not particularly content to be ruled by them, but we certainly are inclined to get along with them. Until the time when we are allowed to revert back to this normal, we’re generally content to be in our woods, chewing roots and speaking our ancient tongue. Not like angry, aggressive, constantly-aggrieved Poles at all.

    4. Maxwell Johnston

      It’s long been my impression (having done business for almost 30 years in RU and Eastern Europe) that the Poles are thoroughly disliked by their fellow ex-Warsaw Pact brethren. They are perceived as being arrogant and bullying and stupid. Whereas the Germans and Russians can also be arrogant and bullying, but at least they’re generally viewed as being smart.

      That said, I don’t exclude the possibility of Poland getting way out over its skis and venturing into the UKR conflict. Which of course will end in disaster for Poland, but there’s something about the Polish mentality that reminds me of moths flying into flames.

      On relations between Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe: many years ago I was drinking post-dinner with colleagues from Spain and Brazil, who asked me what I thought was the one thing all Latin Americans agreed upon. Me being stupid, I answered that all Latin Americans dislike the Yankees. To which they laughed uproariously and corrected my ignorance: everyone in Latin America dislikes the Argentines. Because they’re perceived as being arrogant. Quite similar to Poland and its neighbors.

    5. Kouros

      Hear, hear!

      The uppity Poles have a rock bottom reputation in Romania as well. The wounds go back hundreds of years, even before Stephen the Great of Moldavia, who had a thing or two to say about the not agreement capable Poles…

  6. The Rev Kev

    What’s Polish for ‘Hold my beer?’ There is not a chance in the world that NATO will let the Poles bring in Ukraine through the back door. The Ukrainians would see that as an opportunity to bring in the entirety of NATO into a shooting war with Russia by arranging some provocation. It’s what they do. The Polish elite are going nuts at the moment. I read that they want to build a facility in Poland to manufacture depleted uranium shells for all the NATO tanks. If a war broke out, the Russians would be sure to slam it with a missile which would disperse radioactive particles across a not insignificant part of Poland. And yet the Polish elite are fine with that risk.

    1. digi_owl

      Most of NATO didn’t agree with Bush the younger back when he first started courting Ukraine, and Georgia, with membership. Yet the courting has continued into the present.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I don’t think most of NATO has much of a say in what NATO policies are. And after the fact it’s all about unity and not appearing to be weak and/or divided.

        And should you take a stand as “a sovereign democracy”, well, check the sanctions against Turkey or Hungary. All only for changing behavior The Master finds objectionable.

        1. OIFVet

          Yep, NATO is an “alliance of sovereign states” in name only. In reality, most members have absolutely no say in policymaking, they are there to serve only as platsdarms for encirclement and containment. As such each of them is targeted by several nukes, but that danger is trumped by the abstract and forever fungible “Euroatlantic values.”

    2. steven t johnson

      Depleted uranium is supposed to have the unstable isotopes removed. That is what is depleted about it.

      Uranium however is a heavy metal toxin. As I understand it it is as dangerous as mercury and cadmium and lead. The effects are like all such heavy metals, long-term, rather variable in effect and apparent severity and somewhat deniable by people who like to believe skepticism means their gut is a reliable scientific instrument.

      1. redleg

        It’s depleted of fissionable uranium, i.e. U235, which can be readily used in weapons. All uranium is radioactive.
        Further, the daughter products that accumulate (Ra, Rn, Po, etc.) over time within the uranium are also radioactive.

        1. gwb

          I don’t think the enrichment process gets all the U-235 out – there’s still some left. But inhaling the ambient airborne dust generated from DU rounds striking targets is the most efficient way of spreading radioactive contamination. The combination of radioactivity and heavy-metal toxicity makes DU a big long-term risk in conflict zones. The incidence of hideous birth defects in Fallujah, where DU was heavily used, is off the charts.

  7. fjallstrom

    Joining the EU through joining a member state is possible, but in reality it would depend if the powerful member states accept it.

    We have discussed this at some length over at European Tribune ( In particular the Greater Luxembourg scenario, where a small EU state would expand with new territory by a non-EU state joining it. The consensus landed on it being legal (see East Germany), but if Turkey would join Luxembourg (with extensive home rule for both the Eastern and the Western parts of Greater Luxembourg), the powerful member states could throw up a number of obstacles to prevent the new territories from enjoying the benefits of membership.

    The EU is to a large extent run on consensus, and rules lawyering to hard, like in the Greater Luxembourg scenario, places a member state outside of the consensus. Unless the powerful member states wants it, of course.

    1. Kouros

      There is a very good case though for Romania reincorporating Moldavia in. Third time lucky.

    1. ambrit

      From out of the living standards of the working classes of the West.
      The traditional question here is formulated as: “Guns or butter?”
      The above is a powerful argument for the Workers owning the Means of Production.

      1. Benny Profane

        But, they vote. From what I understand, a lot of Poles aren’t actually gung ho about this. Certainly most more west.

        And, I’m too lazy right now to research it, but I really doubt this new Warsaw pact measures up very well in total GDP compared to Germany, France, The U.S., and, of course, China.

        The crazy Polish leadership is demanding over a trillion in reparations from Germany. Not a good place to build a serious alliance against Russia.

        1. Altandmain

          The West has never truly been a democracy.

          Voting is restricted to the factions of the ruling class.

          1. LifelongLib

            It’s less about voting per se being restricted than the range of “electable” candidates and “serious” ideas.

          2. Benny Profane

            The ruling classes despise Trump, and DeSantis is making life hard for Disney. Disney!

      2. Henry Moon Pie

        “Guns or butter?”

        Not going to be much room for butter. Or bread for that matter. I heard General Jack Keane, a Fox talking head, argue today that we need to return to a Cold War defense budget. He said that we were spending 6% of GDP on defense back when we were fighting the Russkies. We’re spending 3% now, so we need to bring it back up to 6% since we’re fighting the Russkies again. Keane was saying that we can’t fight all these wars until we beef up the greatest military in the world. This is the general saying the same thing a few weeks back while being interviewed by Bartiromo.

        (It’s kind of like Lamar Jackson demanding the Ravens acquire both OBJ and DeAndre Hopkins before he’ll talk to them about contract renewal. Hey, Lamar, maybe improve your playoff record from 1-3 before acting like you’re Patrick Mahomes. And Mahomes, BTW, won a second SB after losing a receiver of that caliber., all without ever complaining.)

        So what the MIC is thinking–Keane’s on the board at General Dynamics–is a doubling of that defense budget. And that’s not including what Keane also demanded: more bomb factories here in the U. S.

        And then there’s the big jump in service on the debt because of interest rates. And then there are the Republicans who threaten to hold out for debt default unless we “balance the budget.”

        Not much good coming our way for a while.

        1. ambrit

          “Not much good coming our way for a while.”
          Indeed. Whenever the spectre of ‘austerity’ is raised, it is always the domestic budget that is targeted for deletion, never the military budget.
          I can see a peculiar sort of rolling general strike becoming the bete noir of the Authorities in the near future. The abysmal percentage of the working age population now “in the workforce” is a leading indicator. As I heard it argued a few weeks ago; “If we have to suffer poverty, then I vote that we suffer it at home. Not at work.”
          When the next wave of “cheap labour” from foreign climes arrives to ‘make up the shortfall’ of workers willing to cut their own throats, this time, expect violence to be perpetrated against them. Nativism is alive and well. It can be weaponized, especially in the workforce.

  8. Stephen

    If Poland is lining up to be the next kamikaze state for the Neo Cons then hopefully other countries will not be stupid enough to join. Hopefully, the Poles will wake up too.

    I do understand the Polish challenge. Since the eighteenth century partitions there has either not been a Polish state, or it has been a puppet of other powers until its rebirth after the fall of the USSR. Some people even still recall the betrayal of the Hapsburgs that they enthusiastically participated in the partitions even though John Sobieski and his Winged Hussars had saved them at the gates of Vienna a couple of generations earlier. AJP Taylor I think it was noted that Poland’s fate is either to be under the thumb of Russia or Germany if either or both are strong. Can fully see why weakening both plus creating Eastern European alliances appeals to the elites and why the siren call of the US (with a strong Polish diaspora too) would be attractive.

    A serious problem with all this though is a similar one to 1939. Britain and France declared war ostensibly to protect Poland (although in reality Poland was the excuse for war, at least for Britain) but had no practical way to help. This was other than a frontal assault across Germany that they were too weak to attempt, especially in the face of the West Wall.

    Similarly, if Poland and these other states create an alliance, and expect practical US military help then it is hard to see how material support could ever get to them in any real no holds barred conflict.

    Even if the U.S. wanted to help fully rather than its normal party trick of sending in evacuation helicopters when the going gets tough.

    Perhaps this will also inspire Austria though to think about resurrecting the Habsburg Empire…..I know that is not their intent by the way!

    Also love how the Atlantic Council talks about Putin “co opting” German or French leaders. Classic US bloc language rather than recognizing that countries have sovereignty, choose to trade with each other in their people’s interests and that the US Washington establishment does not have a divine God given right to rule the world, nor to cut and paste its own nirvana onto every other country.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Also love how the Atlantic Council talks about Putin “co opting” German or French leaders.’

      I think that the word that you are looking for is ‘projection.’ They do that a lot.

  9. eg

    These people are certifiably insane. Even the most casual familiarity with the last 400 years of European history would render risible the notion that either Germany or Russia would fear Poland.

    1. hk

      Germany and/or Russia may not fear “Poland,” but certainly they have feared Poland being used as a base for operations against themselves, or at least, for causing disruption and mayhem. This motivated Bismarck and Gorchakov in late 19th century and was the basis of German-Soviet cooperation in 1920s as well as the motivation behind Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact–AJP Taylor has a morose suggestion that Soviet leaders were fearful that, if left alone, Poland might become the vanguard of a German invasion against Russia the way they were for Napoleon, followed by a comment that such fears were founded on ahistorical thinking that overlooks Poland’s historical, eh, issues with Germany (accompanied by another comment about how political leaders are not usually very mindful of history and if they do, they find ways to make new mistakes, IIRC).

    2. Synoia

      When in Trouble at home, go adventuring (start a war) abroad. What is happening in Poland that drives it the current Polish rulers to want to hide with a war?.

      Typically to hide some large blunders, or monstrous greed, by the current Government by waving a Jingoistic flag.

  10. HH

    The deranged Poles may accomplish the breakup of both the EU and NATO. Recall that the people who want a $Trillion in reparations from Germany also want Germany to back up their grab of Ukrainian territory. The Washington neocons are trying to wreck Europe, and they may succeed.

    1. Dida

      Actually this is not Polish ‘derangement’, but well thought state strategy. Polish elites are feverishly anticipating the incorporation of a sizeable chunk of Ukraine as a result of the current human disaster. But they are struggling to find a way to also maintain possession of German territory received in exchange for giving up Galicia to the Russians after WWII.

      Because if the postwar order is dismantled, there is no reason for Germany to not claim back its own lands, isn’t it? But then the Polish can put forth this diplomatic solution: ‘You murderous Germans killed a couple million Poles, but we will generously forgo reparations in exchange for the German territory we already got.’

      So the role of the reparations comedy is to justify the status quo on the German-Polish border while Poland expands into Ukraine. What ultimately decides matters will be, of course, American will and power projection, but it seems that in world politics it’s important to have some lofty reasons why some borders can be changed but others should not.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I believe Russia has an agenda of it’s own, too. And Russia is, shall we say, better positioned than USA to impose her will on matters regarding the border between Ukraine and Poland.

        1. Dida

          I think you misread my comment. I wasn’t discussing the Ukraine-Poland border, as I have no idea what the Russians are cooking up, and we haven’t seen the end of the war, many things can happen. Turkey has elections soon: maybe the Black Sea will fill overnight with NATO ships. Also Modi will visit the US in summer: this will be a very dangerous moment for the Russia-China partnership. Or the war will embroil Belarus, Moldova, Romania, and Poland, and become a regional nightmare. Personally I think that the US will try very hard to get Eastern Europe to do the dying. And so on. These are very uncertain times.

          But in principle I don’t see how the Russians can swallow Ukraine whole. It is very debatable that they would want to pay the price in blood, or that they would take the risk to govern that nest of vipers. It is very likely in the current mess that at least Galicia will go to Poland, even if the Poles don’t enter the fight. And this would open the door for Germany to claim its former lands.

          I doubt that Russia has the capacity to arbitrate in the matter of the Polish-German border, which is what I was discussing in my comment. These are America’s vassals, not Russia’s. And judging by what we’ve seen so far, my bet is that they would comply with their master lord’s demands. It is of course a speculation, like most of what we predict on boards.

  11. Not Again

    Morawiecki also met with US defense industry representatives to discuss financing the billions of dollars of Warsaw’s planned purchases of F-35 fighter jets, Abrams tanks, HIMARS artillery systems and Patriot missile launching units.

    I am reminded of the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones meets a 7 foot Arab with a giant 4-foot scimitar with edges like razor blades that Indy dispatched with one clean shot to the forehead. Indiana Putin saw the same movie and he’s got every reason to nuke them right in the forehead right after their dumb “show of strength.”

  12. Aurelien

    It’s always been true that there isn’t a single “Europe”, and this is paradoxically becoming ever clearer as more and more attempts are made at EU integration. The original concept of the EC (effectively pre-Reformation Holy Roman Empire 2,0) had a mentality which simply wasn’t compatible, after massive enlargement, even with the British or Nordic mentalities, let alone the mentality emerging from parts of Europe where the traditions were Habsburg, Romanov and Ottoman. Add to this, the fact that different parts of Europe have objectively different strategic interests: Poland and Bulgaria are a lot close to Russia than Portugal or Iceland, and always will be.

    That said, it seems to me that the Poles are going insane. Poland and Hungary have been the two biggest recipients of financial inflows from the EU, and will ultimately have to do what they are told, at least economically. Good luck marginalising France and Germany under such circumstances. And the US is not going to be a serious player in Europe after the debris from the Ukraine crisis finishes bouncing.

    If anything, this kind of nonsense simply confirms the views of those of us who argued that the EU should not have brought weak, poor states from the East into the Union, or at least not until much later. I can imagine more than a few EU capitals rifling through the Treaties to discover if there isn’t a way of expelling awkward members. At this rate, the Poles will be lucky not to wind up as vassals of Moscow.

    1. Ignacio

      Yep, the Poles are drinking some strong vodka if they believe they can drag us all to an EU-Russia confrontation via joining with Ukraine without creating lot of problems for everybody and for themselves in the first place. I have always watched EU eastward expansion with suspicion and shared the view with some friends that this was more an UK plan. The Ukraine war and the putative direct participation of Poland with boots on the ground is an eye opener on the kind of problems we can be involved with. Yet, after having heard too many times from German mouths things like “as far as it takes” I really don’t find any comfort in our political classes and what kinds of stupidities can they commit.

  13. Lex

    Ah yes, “new Europe”, a concept developed because old Europe was trying to tell DC and London that Iraq was a terrible idea.

    The new intermarium is a popular concept in right wing Eastern European thinking (Semenyaka et al) but it always seems to break down when the discussion turns to who will be in charge. Perhaps the Poles believe that the moment is right for Ukrainians having no choice but to accept Polish dominance. Apparently nobody is ready to consider that the whole explosion of violent Ukrainian nationalism was the result of Poland’s rule over western Ukraine and that the UPA was founded to fight Poland.

    I’ve been in favor of Russia letting Poland have Galicia since the earliest days of the SMO. Leave that bomb in the lap of the EU. Because shy of total Ukrainian victory, the Galician nationalists will turn on their patrons of today and cry about being stabbed in the back.

    1. Raymond Sim

      My mind boggled when American policy essentially handed Crimea to Russia. But now I may live to see Galicia de-Nazified by Polish operatives using CIA intel.

      What a world we live in!

  14. Raymond Sim

    Lol, ever since the morning I woke up to video of the air assault on Hostomel I’ve been telling people this was a plausible endgame.

    The secret to my prescience? Knowing a bit of the regional history.

  15. tevhatch

    The dictatorship of Poland was spending 35 to 39% of the national budget on it’s army for the 6 years before it’s invasion by 3rd Reich Germany. UK and France originally were scheming with Poland to join up with Germany to invade Russia, it all fell through in part because Poland, while willing to divide Russia up, refused to allow for a land corridor for Germany to the East, and thought it was the senior and more important party so should get 1st pick. One can say the Molotov – Ribentropp Pact was turn-about, particularly as the Soviet Archives show how well the Polish Government had been penetrated. Now it’s looking like history is repeating, but this time with the USA thrown in with UK and France, and the only ones without their own Nukes are Germany and Poland, so I can guess where this is going.

  16. Keith Howard

    Thanks for this interesting article, Conor. Much appreciated. It has certainly occasioned an entertaining conversation here.

    1. barefoot charley

      Amen. You read Foreign Affairs so we don’t have to. Who knew there was anything to see?

  17. Horne Fisher

    Another reiteration of a bad outdated idea from Britain: the 3 bloc movement. 20th Century interwar period: built up Germany and allow its borders to be brought right up to the USSR to fight Russia, much to the horror of your supposed ally, the weak and exhausted 3rd republic France. Then let them duke it out while Britain moves away from Europe with other Anglo countries to control the sea. Now this time, build up Poland to fight Russia as weak vassal countries Germany, France and Italy look on in horror.

    We know where that idea led. This will be even worse. It’s cheaper to trade via land than sea now. And that whole idea in the late 20’s early 30’s (itself an iteration from Cecil Rhodes ideas about an Anglo Federation) was predicated on a weak and open door China which doesn’t exist. As well as an alliance with a militant but constrained Japan to threaten Russia from the east.

    Sadly these bad ideas are keep alive by neocons and an east coast US-British elite who carry on Rhodes’s vision, and update it by successor NGOs to the Round Tables in each Anglo country that Rhodes started. And they are cheered on by an Eastern European diaspora in Anglo countries that has entirely too much power and voting blocs.

  18. redleg

    Here are my 2 questions:
    When the Poles decide to try and conquer Russia, 1.
    will they directly assault Kaliningrad Oblast, and 2. will the US consider any fire at (official) Polish forces anywhere as cause for invoking NATO Article 5?

    This whole situation is madness.

  19. AG

    In the end of his conversation with Judge Napolitano Alastair Crooke shortly touches on this Polish scenario, which sounds like a nightmare of course (Alastaire has his doubts.)

    start at 23:00

    p.s. Netflix has an interesting fiction mini-series, which I might have already mentioned here – “1983” – a dystopia on a Communist Poland today with Nukes.

  20. mohookoo

    Regarding above comments on how Polish attitudes are perceived by their neighbours to the East: has anybody asked those neighbours whether they would like to be a tiny part of a new federation / Greater Poland? How can this be sold to Lithuanians (I live with one), who bristle at perceived Polish arrogance even today? Look at the lively resentment stimulated by questions of official use of Polish alongside Lithuanian in eg street names. And what about Vilnius? History matters very much to Lithuanians, as it does to Poles. From Wikipedia:
    “Interwar Poland
    Celebration of incorporation of Vilnius Region to Poland in 1922. The event sparked vast Lithuanians anger with a popular interwar chant: “Mes be Vilniaus nenurimsim!” (English: We will not calm down without Vilnius!)[71]

    On 20 February 1922, after the highly contested election in Central Lithuania, the entire area was annexed by Poland, with the city becoming the capital of the Wilno Voivodeship (Wilno being the name of Vilnius in Polish). Kaunas then became the temporary capital of Lithuania. Lithuania vigorously contested the Polish annexation of Vilnius, and refused diplomatic relations with Poland. The predominant languages of the city were still Polish and, to a lesser extent, Yiddish. The Lithuanian-speaking population at the time was a small minority, at about 6% of the city’s population according even to contemporary Lithuanian sources.[72] The Council of Ambassadors and the international community (with the exception of Lithuania) recognized Polish sovereignty over Vilnius Region in 1923.[73]

    Vilnius University was reopened in 1919 under the name of Stefan Batory University.”

    Do Polish elites really think this will be forgotten, when they inevitably dominate any new Grand Duchy? When nationalists calls are made in Poland to assert a historical Polish identity for the modern capital of Lithuania? If my other half is representative, the feeling is strong that the Poles have always been looking to recover the lost Shangri-la that is Vilnius, that they should never have given up.

    A final anecdote on Polish popular arrogance, from a British acquaintance living and working in Poland: “and you know, they are all convinced that it was the Polish squadron that won the Battle of Britain”.

  21. A guy in Washington DC

    After the 1789-1815 wars it took the European public 75 years, three generations, before the folk memory of what the armies moving back-and-forth did faded into what we call “the past”. By 1890 the rubes- and their leaders- were ready for another round of fighting over such things as Bosnia, Tangiers and who would build the railroad to Baghdad. Maps were drawn; predictions were made; the burghers got up from reading their morning papers and headed off to the office thinking: “Its about time we taught those damn (fill in the blank)’s a lesson”.

    After the 1914-1945 episode the survivors crept home and dodged another “big one” as long as they lived. Thank you John and Nikita. The last vets of WWII are now 100. Thier children, who remembers the look in their eyes and what they said- and didn’t say- are now 70-80.

    1945 + 75 years = 2020. Any questions?

    1. Polar Socialist

      In the context of this discussion I’m tempted to make a joke about Poland not existing as a sovereign state during that time, thus explaining the length of the relative peace.

      But more seriously, some credit goes to the Congress of Vienna settling a lot of issues between European states within a holistic – if conservative – framework. Perhaps European peace also gained from the fact that the British were rather occupied with Afghanistan and India.

  22. Rob

    The very idea that Poland would actively invite the sort of trashing that Russia is now visiting upon Ukraine seems insane. I think they will talk tough but try to avoid crossing any lines that would trigger a military response from their much bigger and more powerful neighbor to the east.

  23. Matthew G. Saroff

    If Polish troops go in, they will take effective control of Galicia, which they feel was illegally taken by Stalin in the post war years.

  24. Upstate New Yorker

    Interesting that the comments here are so anti-Polish. The old Commonwealth was an aristocratic republic which maintained a successful union between Poland and Lithuania for 400 years. It’s failure to incorporate the Ukraine on a par with Lithuania in the wake of Khmelnitsky’s rebellion in the 17th century (it almost happened) made possible the autocratic Russian domination of Ukraine and Eastern Europe, and much of the resulting historical nightmare in that part of the world. The Commonwealth was a western-leaning country with enlightenment traditions (cf. the 3 May Polish constitution of 1791). These traditions and history seem to be unknown by most of these commentators, who rely on recent stereotypes which seem to be anecdotally based on pillow talk with lovers. That is embarrassing. Polish jokes, anyone?

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