Last year’s $22 billion Polish-Korean arms deal is in jeopardy due to the first’s new liberal-globalist government having doubts about some of the financing terms that its conservative-nationalist predecessor agreed to and the second having reached the legal limit for loans. Prior to this, Poland was poised to beat Germany in their competition to build Europe’s largest army and accordingly expand its envisaged regional “sphere of influence”, but that might no longer happen if the deal falls through.
While South Korean lawmakers could amend legislation to increase the borrowing cap and/or find local banks who’d be interested in helping out, all that could be for naught if Poland gets cold feet and decides to either cancel some contracts or demand unrealistic revisions so as to ruin the deal. The new Sejm speaker declared shortly after taking power that “Agreements signed by the interim PiS government may be invalidated”, while the new Defense Minister recently called the original terms “unacceptable”.
The larger context within which this uncertainty is emerging concerns Poland’s subordination to German hegemony under the return of Prime Minister Donald Tusk after a nine-year hiatus, who was accused by opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski of being that country’s agent. In particular, it agreed last month to partially implement the “military Schengen” with Germany and the Netherlands, which will lead to German troops freely transiting to and from Poland for the first time since World War II.
The end effect is that Germany has been able to make tangible progress on its grand strategic plan to rebuild “Fortress Europe” and thus beat Poland in those two’s competition to become the US’ top partner for containing Russia in Central & Eastern Europe. Accordingly, with Germany informally assuming partial responsibility for Poland’s security and in a much better economic-financial position to fund its goal of building Europe’s largest army, there’s a certain logic to Poland bowing out of this race.
The argument can be made that Germany might feel more comfortable with a largely weakened and militarily neutered Poland than a strong one that could potentially revert back to conservative-nationalism at a future time and then resume their competition. On the other hand, however, maintaining some (key qualifier) of the prior government’s rearmament and modernization programs could enable Poland to relieve some the burden upon Germany for its envisaged continental hegemony.
The common denominator between both scenarios is that Germany wants to greatly reduce Poland’s competitive potential and therefore preempt any possible return of its Great Power plans at a future date, ergo why it’s pleased to hear that the Polish-Korean arms deal might fall apart. The latest signal coming from its allied government in Warsaw indicates that the whole thing might not go through even if more funding is secured from Seoul’s side so Berlin’s goal might soon be attained at least in part.