Putin bears full responsibility for missile deaths in Poland and this war of aggression
As the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland, my deepest condolences are with the two Polish civilians killed by a missile that landed in Przewodow, a village near Ukraine's border.
Although the investigation is ongoing, it is understood that the missile was part of the Ukrainian defence system protecting critical infrastructure from a barrage of 80 Russian rockets launched that day. We must be clear - Vladimir Putin bears full responsibility for these two deaths and for this war of aggression. Moscow’s nefarious regime must answer for its crimes, but for now, the ironclad support to Poland must be reassured.
When I led a delegation of parliamentarians to Warsaw in the summer, we saw first-hand how the war in Ukraine is affecting its neighbour Poland, in ways not seen since the Second World War.
Poland is doing much to help those escaping the conflict, but they themselves need more support
Millions of Ukrainians have fled, and Poland has now been transformed into one of the major refugee-hosting countries in the world. This seismic influx has been incredibly pressurising, with Poland’s economy under strain and local infrastructures such as accommodation, education, and healthcare struggling to cope. Poland is doing much to help those escaping the conflict, but they themselves need more support. The European Union’s financial aid is pitiful compared to how much Poland is spending to support the vast numbers of Ukrainians taking refuge in their country. The cost of maintaining refugees from Ukraine is estimated at over €8bn, whereas the European Union has only provided €144.6m so far.
Poland’s eastern territory now serves as a staging area for one of the most enormous military assistance efforts. In terms of military aid, Poland has led the way, only behind the United States and the United Kingdom, by providing at least $1.7bn worth of arms and other equipment to Ukraine. Polish “Krab” gun-howitzers, co-developed by British BAE System, have been enormously effective in the realms of conflict.
In terms of Nato spending, Poland has demonstrated its commitment to the military alliance by announcing that it will increase defence spending three three per cent from 2.4 per cent, with the ultimate target being five per cent. France and Germany, two of Nato’s most prosperous member states, do not even spend two per cent on their defence budgets, and their response to helping Ukraine has been much slower in contrast to the UK and countries of central and eastern Europe.
Poland and Ukraine will connect their energy power grids by the end of this year, allowing cross-border trade in a time of growing concern over energy security following Russia’s invasion. Poland no longer imports energy and gas from Russia. The invasion of Ukraine accelerated Poland’s determination to become independent from Russian gas. Poland uses about 20bn cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year, 9.9 bcm of which came through the Yamal pipeline from Russia. But unlike Germany, which generates about 15 per cent of its electricity from gas, Poland gets most of its power from coal, while gas is used by industry and for domestic purposes.
Poland, having predicted the threat from Russia, had also heavily invested in ports allowing to import liquefied gas. It has also built the Baltic Pipe, allowing Norwegian gas to flow from Denmark to Poland. Poland warned us about the threat of Russian blackmail and the importance of energy diversification and independence – and they were right.
I cannot think of another country that sympathises with the plight of Ukraine more profoundly than Poland. During the Second World War, they showed tremendous fighting spirit against their own occupiers, Nazi Germany, and the Ukrainians are demonstrating the same zeal to liberate themselves today.
With missiles landing in their territory, Poland continues to bear the brunt of supporting Ukraine, but other countries must seriously reassure them with more effective and long-lasting support.
Daniel Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham and chair of the APPG on Poland.
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.