Understanding the Reasons for Poland’s Rapid Militarization


In less than 300 years, Poland has seen its former prominence and prosperity in the Polish -Lithuanian commonwealth dissolve due to, among other factors, its military weakness that allowed for its partition between the Russian, Prussian, and Austrian empires. Finally regaining its sovereignty in 1918 after WWI, it stood for less than three decades before being ravaged during WWII, immediately after which it came under Soviet control.

Soviet control had not only blocked Poland’s reception of funds from the Marshall Plan that were designated for Europe’s reconstruction after WWII but had also resulted in economic stagnation under the communist, planned market system. Now, a mere three decades since regaining sovereignty, Poland has seen a surge in economic output, with the economy growing ten-fold since 1990, the fastest of any EU country in that time period, quickly becoming a significant economic node of Europe.

With these impressive achievements that have dramatically increased the quality of life for its citizens and its economic prominence in Europe, Poland must consider its defense capacity to protect its people and continue this trajectory. Suffering first-hand the consequences of military weakness and the consequences of being stripped of its sovereignty, Poland’s recent militarization, prompted and hastened by the war in Ukraine, aims to prepare Poland in the event that any power, particularly Russia, should impose itself.

Poland’s military expansion is largely dictated according to the Technical Modernization Plan of 2019, which has been bolstered since the invasion of Ukraine. Through this militarization measure, Poland, by 2035, has set targets to increase its military expenditure from around 2% to 4% of its GDP, which would give Poland the highest military spending as a function of GDP of any NATO country. At the forefront of Poland’s initiative, the country seeks to double its number of military personnel from the 2019 estimate of 150,000, to 300,000, increase the quantities and types of military equipment and artillery, and increase cyber defense capabilities.

Poland’s proximity to the war in Ukraine and the implications of this, with, for example, the over 15.4 million Ukrainian refugees that have crossed the Polish border since the invasion, coupled with other EU countries’ dwindling interest in maintaining military spending and in providing aid to Ukraine, Poland realizes that it must take independent action to strengthen itself to help ensure its prosperity for the years to come. Without a large military power along the border between EU-NATO countries and former Eastern bloc countries – the latter in which Russia has again shown a growing imperialist interest – and with this recent, devastating offensive by Russia in Ukraine, countries along or in proximity to Russia’s border face vulnerability.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, Poland has been among the greatest contributors of aid and other forms of assistance to Ukraine, with contributions at around 0.6% of the GDP, and Eastern European and Baltic countries have also been among the greatest contributors of aid in percentages of GDP to Ukraine, these countries fully realizing that their own sovereignty is threatened by the uncertainty of Ukraine’s. Poland’s militarization thus legitimizes itself as a necessary, defensive military power among these countries, positioning itself in defense against Russian encroachment.


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Montana Lorbetske

Montana Lorbetske

One of the most attractive aspects of studying international relations and politics is its versatility, with every conceivable topic being relevant to this study, by connection to humans. I find everything about humans, with our simultaneously complex and simple nature, to be endlessly fascinating. In my life, I aim to intently observe and evaluate humans and their connections to all matters of attention and make personal connections with people in order to gain insight into the innumerable iterations of humanness and the human experience.

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