Over its long history, Poland has endured numerous changes of fortune. It has been often invaded and looted, with many of its best minds massacred by enemies wishing to destroy Poland’s ruling classes. But Poland has also — in heroic fashion — saved the rest of Europe from serious invasions from barbarian forces — most recently when it stopped the USSR’s westward military expansion in 1920.
Like Russia, Sweden, Rome, and Greece, Poland was once a great power.
In Poland, the Defense Ministry aims to acquire 307 more eight-wheel-drive Rosomak armored modular vehicles (AMV) with final deliveries scheduled by 2019. This will increase the land forces’ existing fleet of 670 vehicles made by state-run manufacturer Rosomak SA under a license secured from Finland’s Patria.
The move is one of the major land forces procurements under Poland’s ongoing program to modernize and overhaul its armed forces from 2013 to 2022. The planned acquisitions of weapons and military equipment are expected to total some 139 billion zloty (US$36.9 billion).
… Earlier this year, two state-run defense companies, Polish Armaments Group (PGZ) and its offshoot OBRUM Gliwice research unit, signed a deal with Germany’s Rheinmetall (RMMV) and to cooperate building a new amphibious armored personnel carrier (APC). The six-wheel-drive vehicle is designed to replace the outdated Soviet-designed BRDM-2 amphibious vehicles operated by the Polish Armed Forces.
…. Meanwhile, other countries that are expanding or planning to increase their armored vehicle fleets include Latvia and Estonia, as well as Romania. In a number of deals, Eastern European countries purchase second-hand vehicles from other NATO member states due to tight budgets.
So while Putin is busy doing Kabuki theatre in Syria, Eastern Europe — tired of being bullied by blockheaded bully-boys — is building its basic defensive forces against an invasion by a belligerent, poorly-led, and over-extended Russia.
Poland is also strengthening ties with Ukraine. Ukraine and Poland (and Belarus) share many demographic ties, so a strong interchange of peoples, tradegoods, and other forms of exchange and help make a lot of sense. Belarus itself is — like Poland has done and Ukraine is doing — attempting to strengthen ties with the west. The old system of floating in the turbulence of Russia’s oppressive military and economic orbit is not working out very well for ex-members of the Warsaw pact — particularly in these days of Russian stagnation and decline.
Poland — like much of Europe — is turning away from Russian energy suppliers at every opportunity:
Like most of central and eastern Europe, Poland has long been a client of Russian oil companies. Last year, about three-quarters of its fuel imports came from Russia, with the rest from Kazakhstan and European countries. Poland, however, is at the center of efforts to reduce the European Union’s dependence on Russian energy. Since Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine last year, Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor, has increased military expenditures and other efforts to shore up its security. It’s working with its smaller neighbors, too. On Thursday, it announced an agreement with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to build a natural gas pipeline to and from the Baltic States, ensuring their future independence from Russian gas supplies.
… Oil competition is a dangerous undercurrent in Putin’s Middle Eastern policy. The Russian leader hopes that when its ally Iran re-enters the global oil and gas market, Russia will somehow share in the profits, perhaps through new pipelines across Syria. He also wants to stop the Saudis from establishing export routes in Syria. Now that Russian energy supremacy in Europe also is at stake, Putin’s determination to resolve the Syrian conflict on his terms can only grow.
Poland is looking better to foreign investors, as Russia and China look worse.
The Baltic states are upgrading their military comms and electronic warfare equipment, in preparation for more aggressive Russian movements against their sovereignty.
This may be one reason why Putin felt compelled to stage his street theatre production in Syria. Making long-term enemies comes easy to Putin and the Kremlin in general. Those who are able to make strong and lasting alliances are more likely to march triumphant into the future of Eastern Europe.
The funny thing about Russia’s “shock and awe” missile attacks from the Caspian Sea to Syria: Several cruise missiles crashed in Iran, and virtually none of the missiles actually hit any useful target. Putin “shot his wad” in very unimpressive fashion, like a reverse fireworks display that shoots off a paltry finale of two or three Roman Candles at the very beginning, then proceeds to shoot off under-sized firecrackers for 5 more minutes — to popular acclaim by the Kremlin Propaganda Machine, state media, factory trolls, and a motley crew of western fellow travelers.
Putin may have impressed the dimwitted European officials, observers, and journalists that he wanted to shock and awe, but realistic strategists can easily see the signs of desperation behind Putin’s flailing about on the world stage. Russia is bombing everyone except ISIS.
Putin wants to destroy all other opponents of the Assad regime in Syria, leaving the West with an awful choice between Assad and the Islamic State. But it should come as no surprise if Putin eventually goes after the IS — Putin’s problem with Islamic extremists may be even larger than America’s. He has this sobering prospect to consider: About 2,400 Russians are known to be fighting within the ranks of IS. Should they return, they may join the ranks of Russia’s ballooning Islamic population, much of which is concentrated in the rebellious Caucasus and is growing at the same rate as the country’s Slavic population is shrinking. (Russia is likely to be about 13 percent Muslim by 2030, according to the Pew Research Center.)
In addition, Moscow is back on the near-term target list for radical islamists of all persuasions. Someone in the Caucasus is putting together a dirty nuclear isotope bomb. Moscow may be setting itself up to become uninhabitable.
Russophiles seem not to understand — or be able to believe — that Russia’s armed forces cannot walk and chew gum at the same time. Neither can it do either one alone very well. If Russia is still licking its wounds from 1970s and 1980s Afghanistan, it will be whimpering from the ill-advised Syrian intervention until it eventually collapses from its beleaguered and depopulating periphery inward.
Russia’s supply lines for advanced weapons systems have been broken since the invasions of Crimea and east Ukraine — with the western sanctions tacked on. No more high tech turbine engines for helicopters, ships, and aircraft, that were previously designed and manufactured in Ukraine. The same for advanced missile guidance systems (!) and other crucial components for Russia’s missile and rocket fleets, and nuclear weapons.
Poland does not need to defeat Russia again, alone. A building alliance of Poland, Ukraine, Finland, the Baltic States, other nations of E. Europe (perhaps including Belarus), NATO, and Sweden, should prove quite sufficient, once Russia has taken its beating in the middle east. Putin will be toppled in a coup or internal assassination, like Stalin. China will move in for the leavings. China already owns Russia’s high tech weapons systems, once Chinese factories are able to gear up to replace Ukraine’s formerly crucial role.
And so on . . . . .
Russia is the bad neighbor that brings property values down for everyone in the neighborhood. A belligerent nation that is so swiftly on the decline is a danger to everyone within reach.