In the context of hostilities in Ukraine, media and messenger publications focus on the fighting, shelling, and supply of weapons and military equipment. Occasionally there is information about the actions of mercenaries. No less significant events fall outside the scope of the above—the build-up of Poland’s own armed forces, the massive presence of combatants (read—not necessarily soldiers, but people trained in the military) in Ukraine, the provision of unprecedented benefits for Polish citizens in the neighboring state. If you take into account the strategy of warfare, then in addition to action on the line of contact and neighboring territories, an important component is the preparation of a reserve or even the formation of a strike group outside the conflict territories. This was the case at Stalingrad, when troops formed in Siberia decided the overall outcome of the battle. In the events under consideration for the coalition, composed of Ukraine and Western countries supplying it, the “Siberians” mentioned could be the Polish army. This is the first scenario, where Poland will make up a kind of reserve for the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU), allowing it to free up available forces and means to continue fighting with Russia. This would require the introduction of troops into Ukrainian territory and the occupation of defensive lines.
With such a development, Ukraine should be fully assured of Poland’s loyalty to the regime. At a minimum—that the deployed Polish divisions will not remain forever on the “defended” territories with their further annexation to Poland. Then there will almost certainly be pockets of resistance to the new invaders, given the centuries-old contradictions between Poland and Ukraine, including in the issue of ownership of the territories, given the same dissatisfaction of the inhabitants of Western Ukraine to any power, whether the Soviets, or the Rzeczpospolita. Warsaw itself actively promotes the idea of creating the Third Rzeczpospolita, or the no less famous Mezhmorye with an axis between Warsaw and Ankara.
The implementation of this option is connected with “technical” moments. Of the four existing Polish divisions (mechanized divisions: the 12th, 16th and 18th, and one tank division, the 11th), the 16th mechanized division is supposed to be used in the direction of Kaliningrad, and the 12th overlaps with the army of Belarus. Two more divisions remain for action in Ukraine: the 18th Mechanized Division and the 11th Armored Cavalry Division, including the 6th Independent Airborne Brigade.
The second scenario considers the direct involvement of the Polish army against Russia. Here further development is possible in two directions: in the first, Poland will fight after Ukraine has finally lost its combat capabilities to continue the armed conflict with Russia; in the second, with a much lower degree of probability, it will take part in the armed confrontation together with Kiev.
In all of the options under consideration, Warsaw needs a significant amount of manpower and resources. This is not only the numerical increase of the army, but also equipping (re-equipping) it with weapons and military equipment (WME), taking into account the modern nature of combat operations. That is the availability of a large number of multiple rocket launchers with correction of firing results (targeting). Similarly—in the part concerning artillery, as well as the use of UAVs for reconnaissance purposes, to direct fire on the enemy, in general—the creation of a single information field for data exchange.
Poland has taken the route of receiving new equipment by sending its old equipment to Ukraine. To date, it has transferred from its existing stockpiles:
- 150 units of barrage ammunition (the Polish equivalent of Geraney) Warmate;
- 230 units, T-72M;
- 232 pieces of Polish RT-91 Twarday tanks (T-72 modification);
- 20 pcs. BM-21 (“Grad”) MLRSs;
- 20 pcs. of howitzers 2S1 “Gvozdika”;
- 19 units. 19 pieces of AHS Krab anti-tank gun.
Thus, there was a need for more than 400 tanks, artillery and MLRS.
Poland planned to receive the above-mentioned equipment from the US and Germany. However, due to various reasons, the deliveries have not yet been made. Warsaw therefore negotiated with South Korea, which will provide what the U.S. promised, with similar (and in some cases even superior) quality.
- More than 1,200 K2 “Black Panther” tanks (replacing the former 115 M1A1 SA “Abrams” tanks);
- More than 600 K9 155-mm. self-propelled howitzers;
- 288 K239, Chunmoo (MLRS analogue) rocket systems;
- 3 squadrons of FA-50 light fighters.
According to various experts, South Korea’s artillery is ranked among the best in the world. The K-9 howitzer has a British BAE Systems barrel mounted on a Polish Crab (T-72 chassis and turret of the same BAE Systems), and the K-2 tank is armed with a German-made 120-mm L55 gun produced under license.
An additional incentive for striking a deal with South Korea is that, unlike the United States, Seoul offers localization of production. If we take the K-2 tanks as an example, then 180 tanks (three battalion-size sets) will be supplied in the first stage in 2022-2025, and then 820 tanks (14 battalion-size sets) K2PL will be produced through localization of production beginning in 2026. The latter are an upgrade of the basic K-2 with enhanced armor, all-around vision system, and ASOP active protection system. Production of the K3PL, a new promising Polish-South Korean tank to be manufactured in Poland and South Korea, is scheduled for the future.
Similarly with the Krab ACS. In 2022, two Regina division firing modules comprising 48 Krab SAUs were delivered, which makes it possible to “load” the output capacities of the Huta Stalowa Wola SA (HSW). Until 2025, the production of howitzers of the following modifications will be localized: K9A1 with the Polish automated artillery control system TOPAZ; K9PL, K9PLA3 – (“Krab 2”).
The same with MLRSs. Production of key components and ammunition for them is planned to be transferred to Poland. Chunmoo guided missiles (239 mm caliber) will be produced by the Polish factory Mesko. The claimed range of high-precision operational-tactical ballistic missiles used is up to 290 km., which is equal to and even exceeds the launch capabilities of ATACMS missiles from MLRS and HIMARS.
UAVs, as well as guidance and reconnaissance systems, are necessary for the effective use of artillery and MLRS.
Poland has three projects in this area:
Gryf (“Gryf”) – procurement of medium-range tactical unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capable of carrying guided munitions;
Ważka (“Dragonfly”) – procurement of microdrones, weighing no more than 1,600 g, intended mainly for reconnaissance in urbanized areas by day and night;
Płomykówka (“Sipucha”) – procurement of visual (IMINT), electronic (SIGINT) and radar (RADINT) reconnaissance aircraft, possibly on the Airbus C-295 platform.
In the latter case, Warsaw already now has capabilities for precision targeting, because as a NATO member it is connected through the National Air Operations Support Center to the Unified Intelligence and Control System (ASOC).
The Polish government bought eight Aerostar UAVs and six Orbiter-2 UAVs from Israel to implement the first two projects, with plans to deliver 20 Hermes-450 and Hermes-900 drones to Israel’s Elbit Maarahot. As in the case of multiple rocket launchers, anti-missile guns and tanks, plans are to localize production in the future. At the first stage of the deal, Elbit will supply data on the construction, assembly and control of drones, while the Poles will produce encryption parts and other equipment.
In addition to Israel, Turkey is the UAV supplier, with its Bayraktar TB2 strike drones, the first batch of which has already entered service with the Polish Air Force’s 12th UAV base.
In the long term, constant aerial reconnaissance and a unified data exchange network are necessary for more effective application of forces and capabilities. This can be ensured through the purchase of the Eitan (Heron TP) UAV developed by IAI back from Israel. The latter is one of the world’s largest drones—its wingspan is 26 meters, which is comparable to the dimensions of a Boeing 737 airliner. The onboard equipment includes tracking and target detection systems in optical, infrared and radio bands, satellite navigation.
In addition to the use of drones themselves, in the event of war against a country that uses them en masse (Russia in particular), countermeasures are needed. The Geraniums used by Russia are an analogue of the Iranian Shahedin. Israel has the most experience in countering these UAVs. According to Zman Yisrael and The Times of Israel, to counteract the UAVs used by Russia, Tel Aviv has transferred through Poland to Ukraine rather innovative SmartShooter systems, designed to hit ground unprotected targets, as well as to destroy drones. There is no full information available about the effectiveness of their use at the moment. However, Israel has a “Drone Dome” complex with a declared 100% efficiency against drones. The latter was created by “Rafael Defense Systems,” to combat a variety of aerial objects, including drones weighing from 2 to 150 kilograms. It includes four RPS-42 radars, the Control MEOS optronic and infrared surveillance subsystem, the S-Gard RD REB subsystem with the NetSense Wideband Radio Network detection kit.
In addition, the counter-drone lineup includes the Drone Guard (ELI-4030) system developed by Elta, the Convexum suite, and an advanced anti-drone system called EnforceAir, developed by D-Fend Solutions.
As for the development of the armed forces, Poland currently has about 58,000 troops in its ground component, which it plans to raise to 300,000. This thus compares the land component with the current strength of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
As a result, Poland will be able to replenish and obtain the necessary forces and means to implement any of the variants of events in the period from 2024 to 2025.
The assumption of offensive rather than defensive actions by Poland follows from the ratio of equipment transferred to Ukraine and purchased. In a situation where Warsaw would be focused exclusively on defense against an external enemy, it would only need to replenish the fleet of equipment transferred to Ukraine (460 tanks, 20 MLRS, 39 SAU). In contrast to the “defense” assumption are the figures of the purchased AVT: 1200 tanks, 600 SAU, 288 MLRS, plus UAVs. It is three times the original number. According to previous Soviet military canons, a threefold superiority in capabilities is required for offensive operations.
It is quite possible that Russia will be designated as the “main” enemy. From where does this assumption come? From a recent analytical report by the British Intelligence Service, published on Twitter, subsequently reviewed by various publications (including the Polish, Niezależny Dziennik Polityczny, and the British, Independent).
To summarize what was said in the report, Ukraine is 40 times weaker than Russia. The Russian troops have an overwhelming advantage in rocket and barrel artillery, as well as in combat support (dozens of times) compared to the AFU. Russia exceeds Ukraine 20-fold in the number of guns and MLRS, and 40-fold in ammunition. The AFU is experiencing a shell starvation, and it has practically exhausted rockets for Smerch and Uragan MLRS. The main firepower of the AFU is represented by “grads” and howitzers, with a maximum range of 20-30 km. “Long arms” in the form of modern missiles and modernized howitzers, the Russians have an overwhelming air superiority. The irretrievable losses are in the order of 100 thousand people. The factor of the concentration of artillery, multiplied by the range, losses in manpower, depress the fighting spirit of the Ukrainians. To summarize: the suppression of the Ukrainian armed forces by Russia is a matter of time. In this case, the Ukrainian armed forces will be destroyed and the Russian ones weakened, which can be used both to seize territories and to destroy Russia as a global adversary.
A number of reports can be noted in the media confirming the indicated hypothesis. In particular, this is stated by the Deputy Chief of the Belarusian General Staff Valery Gnilozub, based on data on the militarization of Poland. Inside Poland, Dziennik polityczny says this. The article by Marek Galash says that the “War Party,” represented by the ruling coalition of Poland, officially recognizes participation in a foreign conflict. Returning to the already mentioned intelligence analysis, Britain claims the participation in the conflict of 2,300 Polish mercenaries on the territory of Ukraine. In fact, this is the first stage of the operation to return the “Eastern regions,” carried out by the ruling party “Law and Justice.” At the same time, it is emphasized that the Poles and Ukrainians will not become brothers. Already, Polish mercenaries are not too eager to follow the orders of the command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and it comes to skirmishes with the nationalists.
The beginning of the implementation of Poland’s ambitious plan has been laid—this is the participation of mercenaries in the conflict, and the re-equipment of its own army. The active phase is predicted in two cases: the complete re-equipment of the Polish army with the planned forces and means, which, as mentioned, can be completed by 2024-2025, or when Russia declares that it has completed the tasks of the special operation, including returning the lands of the east and south of Ukraine, including Transnistria. In the second option, Poland, under the pretext of introducing a peacekeeping contingent, will invade the western territories of Ukraine. Further, using various social levers, the dissatisfaction of Ukrainians with the actions of their own government, the destruction of the social structure, Poland will ensure the holding of a referendum on the accession of the western territories of Ukraine to Poland, with a guarantee of ensuring further security and ensuring the well-being of the population.
Conclusions. Considering that by 2024 (2025) Poland will be equipped with the latest self-propelled guns, MLRS, tanks, UAVs, in combination with an increase in numbers to the strength of the Ukrainian army, in the event of an armed confrontation with Russia, this will create an adversary for us, superior to us in the area of application. If the Armed Forces of Ukraine, having the size of the army planned by Warsaw (300,000 people), in the presence of a small number of modern weapons and military equipment, resists Russia, and also conducts successful offensive actions (operations) for 9 months, then in the case of Poland, with the same size and equipment of the Russian army, it could turn into a disaster for us.
The use of Israeli systems by Poland can completely neutralize the opportunities gained with the receipt and production of kamikaze drones “Shahed” and “Geran.” According to recent Israeli statements, this is quite possible, especially after the localization of the production of Iranian drones in Russia, as well as the transfer of Iranian ballistic missiles to Russian troops. But this can happen also without these reasons, based only on economic benefits.
The probability of a war between Poland and Russia by 2024-2025 is assessed as high. By the time of 2024-2025, the Polish army will in any case be ready for offensive operations. If Ukraine fails as an adversary, the United States will be interested in continuing the conflict to weaken Russia and will make every possible effort to do so. This will be supported by forces inside Poland with the promotion of the Intermarium idea.
Sergei Atamanov writes from Russia. This articles appears courtesy of Geopolitika.