With Russian expansion in Crimea and supposed military involvement in Eastern Ukraine in recent months being highlighted in the news, I thought it prudent to look out the capabilities of our allies in the region and examine, if and what they might be able to do in order to oppose any further Russian expansion into their sovereign territories. I believe that Poland is the major player in the area, with one of the largest populations and one of the highest rates of development in the European Union in recent years.
In recent history, when one considers the two world wars, Poland never really stood a chance, immediately being divided and shared between the powers of the day. However, in a conflict against Russia, it stand to reason that this time, on account of a such close partnership between the European Powers such as Germany and France with Poland, that the nation would not be expected to fight a two front conflict. Any conflict that Poland would have would come from the east or from countries that Russia would have to conquer and consolidate first, or from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in the north. On the eastern border, there are no geographical barriers that would hinder a Russian advance, making it extremely difficult for Poland to repel an invasion. Thus, it must rely on a modern and advanced military that is capable of going toe to toe with Russia until allies can come with reinforcements.
Poland is currently in the process of expanding its military expenditures at a time where Europe in general has cut down on each member’s defense budgets. The nation is increasing the size of its tank forces, which currently stand at around 16,000 tanks and also buying new fighter jets. Poland has also set apart 22 billion dollars for new systems, which does not factor into the defense budget. “That’s twice Israel’s entire annual defense budget just being spent to modernize its equipment. “While the numbers of active duty military, reserves, tanks, and aircraft does seem dwarfish when compared to the Russian numbers, one must remember that Russia would not be able to deploy all of its forces in Poland, as in order to get to Poland it must first subjugate any of the neighboring countries. With the removal of Russian forces from other trouble spots in the Federation, it would also risk insurrection in these areas.
In terms of missile defense and surface to air programs, which would drastically increase the cost to the Russians of any incursion, Poland is now seeking to develop a system similar to that which the United States had promised, but canceled after Russian protest. Named the “Shield of Poland”, and will consists of multiple levels varying from networked shoulder fired systems, 11 batteries of conventional air defense missiles, and 8 batteries of long range air defense missiles.With the development of this system, Poland will have the ability to limit much of Russia’s air support options and hopefully slow their advance across the eastern plains until the United States or other allied nations can arrive