This measure could lead the current conflict to a new level of escalation, with very serious consequences.
Written by Lucas Leiroz, journalist, researcher at the Center for Geostrategic Studies, geopolitical consultant.
On April 12, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that he wants to make his country a “service center” for US M1 Abrams tanks. These “services” would include the manufacture of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition, with the possible creation of a factory specialized in this toxic equipment in Polish territory.
“I want a service center for Abrams tanks for the whole of Europe, for maintaining their battle readiness, to be located in Poland (…) This is possible, I am in talks regarding this”, he told a journalist during an interview to local press. Also, specifically about DU weapons, he commented that Warsaw is “striving” to have an industry capable of producing them as soon as possible.
The official’s statement comes after his meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris during his last visit to Washington. On his US tour, Morawiecki visited some facilities of the US military-industrial complex, including an Army warehouse in Alabama where Abrams tanks are stationed. Apparently, this would have “inspired” him to build something similar in Poland, leading him to initiate talks in this regard with his American partners.
With this, Morawiecki plans to formalize Poland’s role as the center of American provocations in Eastern Europe. In practice, the country has played this role for a long time, considering that it is from Poland that departs the largest flow of weapons and mercenaries that enter Ukrainian territory to be used against Russian forces. However, there now appears to be a desire on the part of Polish officials to formalize this role for the country, promoting measures such as the creation of large tank depots and the manufacture of DU ammunition, as well as an “additional presence of [US/NATO] several thousand soldiers” – in Morawiecki’s own words.
Poland’s strategic value to NATO is already clear. The geographical location makes Poland extremely interesting to become a NATO “service center”. In addition, anti-Russian ideology has been disseminated in the country for decades, with high degrees of racism which is why it is easier to convince politicians and even the population to support bellicose measures against Moscow.
Some important steps towards escalating Polish militarization have also been taken recently. Warsaw ordered 250 new American Abrams tanks. In addition, the country is also replacing its entire arsenal of Soviet-made T-72 tanks – many of which were delivered to Kiev – with new modern equipment of high combat power. The objective would be, according to Morawiecki, to build a kind of “armored curtain” to “protect” Poland, as well as attending NATO’s demand of combat readiness.
However, the main problem in this scenario is that the Polish government simply does not seem to understand that it is only serving the interests of another power, without gaining any major strategic advantage from these measures. Some analysts, including in the Polish media, believe that Morawiecki’s recent trip to the US was the result of American pressure to respond to Macron’s trip to China.
The French president, despite being geopolitically aligned with the US, has always been marked by his quest for “European autonomy”, trying to make the EU the leading bloc of the “Western world”. In this regard, he made a statement saying that Europe could not be a “vassal” of the US. According to experts, the American government would have summoned the Polish prime minister not only to increase bilateral cooperation but to make it clear that there are EU countries that disagree with Macron and that they are, in fact, willing to do anything to support Washington.
In this sense, by receiving American tanks and creating a supposed “service center” to handle this equipment, Poland would only be guaranteeing American power in Europe, without clear national benefits. Furthermore, by creating a DU munitions factory, the country would be taking a dangerous step against its own security. The toxic agents of these ammunition are harmful to human health, with reports of health problems with British and American soldiers who used them on the battlefield in Yugoslavia and Iraq. Recently, UK announced that it would be supplying such weapons to Kiev, creating a risk of escalation and internationalization of the conflict.
Poland, apparently, wants to be added to this context of rivalries without gaining anything in return. Accepting to produce radioactive weapons for American tanks – which will certainly be delivered to Kiev at some point in the future – is to frontally violate Russian red lines, increasing the risk of military escalation. Considering that DU ammunition does not have specific international regulation, Moscow could understand its manufacture and use as a violation of the principle of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Warsaw is needlessly and irresponsibly fomenting regional chaos just to serve American interests.