The Impact of the UK-Poland Partnership on the War in Ukraine

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In recent years, the partnerships developed by the UK with Poland and Ukraine in its policy towards Eastern Europe have attracted attention. The London administration aims to contain Moscow through its cooperation with these two states. In this context, Warsaw has an important place in London’s support to Kiev.

So much so that UK, Poland and Ukraine established a defense-based tripartite cooperation alliance on February 17, 2022, just before the start of the RussiA-Ukraine War.[1] Therefore, it can be argued that UK and Poland had a better reading of the conjuncture at that time and that, unlike other Western states, they did not hesitate to provide concrete support to Ukraine.

On the other hand, considering that Poland has recently had some disagreements with the European Union (EU), the partnership it has developed with the UK becomes even more important. It also appears that Warsaw’s biggest ally within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Western alliance is London.

On the other hand, for UK, Poland is an important partner in its policy towards both Russia and the EU. In this context, the UK, which left the EU with the Brexit referendum, wants to continue its effectiveness on the union in a sense through Poland. Considering that every state has the right to veto due to the structure of the EU, London’s cooperation with Warsaw becomes even more meaningful. In other words, Brexit has served to further develop relations between Poland and Britain. Moreover, Poland’s geopolitical position in Eastern Europe and its sharing of borders with Ukraine are also extremely important for Britain’s policy towards Russia.

In addition to all these, another factor that brings Britain and Poland closer to each other is the geopolitical objectives of the parties. Currently, Britain aims to realize its initiativeto Eurasia through Eastern Europe. In this context, London is trying to realize this goal through the partnerships it has established with Warsaw and Kiev. On the other hand, Poland aims to become a power center in Europe. In this respect, the partnership it has developed with the UK is very important. In other words, there is a relationship based on interdependence between the parties. Moreover, there is a significant Polish population in UK. This facilitates the establishment of bridges between the parties.

It should be noted that the Russia-Ukraine War, which started on February 24, 2022, led to a further acceleration of relations between Britain and Poland. UK in Western Europe and Poland in Eastern Europe have been the countries that have reacted most strongly to Russia’s intervention.

Especially after the war, it has been claimed that UK was working on a European Commonwealth, which would include the Baltic countries, as well as Ukraine and Poland, and would be a European version of the British Commonwealth. Thus, the claim that Britain aims to create a military, political and economic formation that will be an alternative to the EU and bring together the countries united at the point of distrust towards Brussels has been reflected in the international press.[2]

Although it is shaped by claims, it can be argued that the UK’s midterm and long-term goal in European geopolitics is to create a new bloc that it will lead. In this context, London will first want to reach an agreement with Warsaw and Kiev. Moreover, the fact that the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia advocate the implementation of the harshest policies against Russia within the EU may bring these three states closer to the UK.

On the other hand, it can be said that the basis of the cooperation between UK and Poland is the defense field. Therefore, the agreement signed by London and Warsaw on October 4, 2022 is extremely important.  In this context, UK has committed to increasing Poland’s military capacity following the signing of two major defence equipment agreements. Furthermore, London has announced that it will provide long-term support to Warsaw’s rapid air defense modernization program. The following statements made by the British Defense Minister Ben Wallace within the framework of the agreement are noteworthy:[3]

“We have had a close defence alliance with Poland for over 150 years and as we face the threat from Russia, we need the equipment and the capabilities to safeguard our people and preserve European stability.”

As can be seen from Wallace’s statements, the alliance between UK and Poland also has historical foundations. Therefore, it can be argued that the cooperation between the parties is powered by history. Moreover, UK’s taking steps to strengthen Poland’s defence will naturally play an important role in enhancing Ukraine’s security as well.

On the other hand, the military, financial and humanitarian aid provided by UK and Poland to Ukraine during the war should also be emphasized. With 7.1 billion euros, the UK ranks second in the world on a state basis and first in Europe. Poland also ranks fifth in the world with 3 billion euros and third in Europe.[4] In the context of arms supply to Ukraine, the UK ranks third in the world with 1.9 billion dollars in aid, while Poland ranks fourth with 1.8 billion dollars.[5] Therefore, considering the serious support given by UK and Poland to Ukraine, it can be said that the relations between the parties are based on solid foundations. Furthermore, the aid provided by London and Warsaw plays an extremely critical role in Kiev’s struggle against Moscow.

It is also understood that recently Poland and UK want to increase their artillery supply to Ukraine. In fact, on January 11, 2023, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced that his country would send German-made Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine.[6]

In this respect, considering that Germany has not agreed to send the tanks to Ukraine, it can be argued that Warsaw’s move will put pressure on Berlin. While Germany agrees to send old-fashioned Marder-type armored combat vehicles to Ukraine, it refrains from sending Leopard-2 tanks. Therefore, Germany is reluctant to confront Russia and is careful not to send artillery that could change the course of the war. Poland, on the other hand, does not hesitate to send weapons that could change the course of the war in Ukraine.

Finally, on January 11, 2023, London announced that the British Defence Secretary had held talks with Western allies on how to send “game-changing” tanks to Ukraine. In this context, it was stated that UK was considering sending Challanger-2 tanks to Ukraine.[7] Therefore, the London administration wants to put pressure on Berlin by announcing that it can give the tanks to Ukraine. Therefore, the fact that Poland and Britain brought up the issue of supplying artillery to Ukraine on the same day can be interpreted as a development confirming that the parties act together. As can be understood, both London and Warsaw are exerting pressure on other Western capitals to send artillery to Kiev.

Consequently, Eurasia is an important gateway point in UK’s “Global Britain” target. In this context, the partnerships established by London with Kiev and Warsaw are very important for the realization of this goal. On the other hand, the multidimensional partnership developed by the UK with Poland also comes to the fore in Ukraine’s struggle against Russia.

[1] “Ukraine, UK, Poland Announce Security Pact Amid Heightened Tensions”, Defense News,, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2023).

[2] “UK Proposes “European Commonwealth” with Poland, Ukraine, and Baltics”, Kafkadesk,, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2023).

[3] “Landmark Agreements Strengthen UK-Poland Defence Relations”, Government of United Kingdom,, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2023).

[4] “Infographic: Who Provides the Most Aid to Ukraine?”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2023).

[5] “Ukraine Weapons: What Military Equipment is the World Giving?”, BBC News,, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2023).

[6] “UK and Poland Confirm Plans to Send Modern Heavy Tanks to Ukraine”, Financial Times,, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2023).

[7] “Britain Discusses How to Send ‘Game-Changing’ Tanks to Ukraine”, Politico,, (Date of Accession: 12.01.2023).

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.