East Front News - new format at Defence24


East Front News is a weekly newsletter and article on summarizing the past week’s most important events concerning security and the situation in the Central and Eastern Europe region. It includes original opinions and comments, along with key news items significant from a Polish perspective. If you would like to receive this newsletter, please sign up by clicking

1 Kaja Kallas as the Head of EU Foreign Policy

Kaja Kallas« nomination coincides with the change of NATO Secretary General. Although the Estonian Prime Minister was initially considered for a role at NATO, she decided to withdraw after a conversation with President Macron. It was the Élysée Palace that most strongly advocated for Kallas to take a key position in the EU. Meanwhile, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte became the NATO Secretary General. From Poland’s perspective, it is crucial that the most important positions in international alliances are held by individuals from the eastern flank. The growing threat from the Russian Federation, including the ongoing hybrid warfare, must be on the agenda of discussions in the EU and NATO. Only a representative from the region has the credible experience and awareness of what we are facing. The Estonian Prime Minister is the ideal candidate to ensure that the vital interests of front-line states are a strategic element of the discussions. Additionally, the relationship between Tallinn and Warsaw is better than good.

2 Two Wagner Group Members on Trial in Poland

At the end of June, charges were brought against two Russian citizens, Andrei G. and Alex T., who are members of the Wagner Group. They are accused of involvement in foreign intelligence activities, membership in an armed group, and planning terrorist crimes. They conducted their operations not only on Polish territory but also in other Central European countries. They were apprehended by the ABW (Internal Security Agency) in August 2023 in Warsaw, where they were engaged in recruitment and propaganda activities. It is worth noting that Wagner Group activity had already been observed in Poland, both near the Belarusian border and in major cities. Some mercenaries use Ukrainian passports, having crossed the border at the beginning of 2022. There is a concern that many Wagner operatives remain inactive in EU countries and are yet to carry out operations. From Warsaw’s perspective, it is crucial to strengthen societal resilience against disinformation and recruitment efforts by Russian services.

3 Paweł Poncyljusz Appointed CEO of Polska Amunicja – Aiming to Become a Leading Large-Caliber Ammunition Manufacturer in Poland and Europe

Polska Amunicja Sp. z o.o. was founded by ARANDA (a subsidiary of the Industrial Development Agency) and WPT Holdings, whose shareholders include WB Electronics, Ponar Wadowice, and TDM Electronics. The majority stake in the venture belongs to Aranda, controlled by the state treasury. Paweł Poncyljusz took on the role of CEO at the beginning of June, recommended by WB Electronics. Currently, Polska Amunicja is negotiating with the Ministry of National Defence and the Armament Agency regarding the construction of a factory and the supply of 300,000 155 mm artillery shells for the Polish Armed Forces. The agreement includes building an ammunition factory with full production technology transfer from a foreign partner, followed by continued production and the expansion of the product range to new calibers. This activity, along with cooperation with the Industrial Development Agency, is expected to accelerate the investment process, enabling Poland to become one of the largest large-caliber ammunition producers in Europe.

4 Macron’s Gambit and Le Pen’s Dominance: Is France Choosing Change?

While France may impress on the international stage, internal issues such as rising crime, illegal immigration, and economic stagnation have led the French to desire change. The alternative is the strong right-wing faction led by Marine Le Pen and the National Rally (RN). The campaign, following the European Parliament elections and the dissolution of the National Assembly, lasted only three weeks. The second round of elections is on July 7. Currently, the focus is not on ensuring the victory of the Left or President Macron’s party. The priority now is to prevent Marine Le Pen’s camp from gaining a majority. At the same time, for Poland, cooperation with France should remain a priority, regardless of whether Macron’s party, the Left, or RN prevails. Connections with the Kremlin or differences in views on cooperation with the European Union must be considered, but they can be elements of negotiation and partnership. A Paris close to Warsaw is a Paris further from Moscow. It is worth noting that negotiations for a new Polish-French treaty are ongoing, and both countries have cooperated very effectively in recent months. Concerns after the second round focus on a potential split in the government and a lack of a solid majority, which would allow France to thrive, including in its foreign policy.

5 Change in US Garrison Command in Poland Highlights Long-Term NATO Commitment

In late June, command of the US Army Garrison Poland in Poznań changed hands, underscoring the US’s long-term commitment to NATO’s Eastern Flank. This unit supports about 7,500 personnel, including soldiers and civilian staff, with over 500 stationed in Poznań. It is the eighth US Army garrison in Europe and the first in Poland, established as part of the 2020 Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement. At the ceremony at Camp Kościuszko, US Army Colonel Christopher M. Church completed his mission, and Colonel Jesse G. Chace took over. Both Colonels emphasized that their service in Poland demonstrates a sustained US allied commitment. The garrison, formed in March 2023 from a forward support group, supports units and personnel, including families, across 11 locations: Poznań, Bolesławiec, Drawsko Pomorskie, Karliki, Żagań, Lubliniec, Powidz, Skwierzyna, Toruń, Trzebień, and Żagań. The main unit at Camp Kościuszko is the forward command of the US Army V Corps, which has a history of European military involvement dating back to 1918. Reactivated in 2020, the V Corps addresses new security challenges, continuing its legacy from Cold War defence in Germany’s Fulda Gap.

6 Polish-German Talks Without Breakthrough

On Tuesday, July 2, Polish-German intergovernmental consultations were held in Warsaw, led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Contrary to expectations, clear declarations from the German side regarding the fulfilment of Polish demands for reparations for damages caused during World War II were not achieved. The talks also addressed issues of cooperation in defence and security, including the defence industry, air defence, and joint actions within NATO. However, the agreements reached are of a general nature and cannot be considered groundbreaking. Poland expects German involvement in protecting the border with Belarus, and both countries are to support the fight against illegal migration. A significant - and unresolved - contentious issue between Poland and Germany is the financing of defence capabilities from EU funds. Poland supports EU co-financing for large-scale arms purchases, which Berlin opposes.

7 Production of K2 Tanks in Poland

Preparations are underway for the production of K2 tanks in Poland under a license from the South Korean company Hyundai Rotem. Due to the expiration of the existing agreement among the PGZ consortium, WZM, and Hyundai Rotem, the Polish Armaments Group has initiated talks to establish a new consortium and form a strategic partnership with Hyundai Rotem Company. This new consortium will be formed between PGZ and Hyundai Rotem without the involvement of WZM Poznań as a member. The Military Automotive Works in Poznań will be responsible for the servicing, maintenance, and support of the Polish K2 tanks, while the production of future K2PL tanks in Poland will involve various PGZ companies, including WZM. During the Korean delegation’s visit to Poland in June, Defence Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz confirmed the intention to purchase a batch of 180 K2 tanks and to sign the contract at the MSPO 2024 fair in September this year. The Polish side advocates for the production or assembly of some of these tanks in the country.

8 Loan Agreement for Air Defence System

The Ministry of National Defence announced that Poland and the United States have signed a direct loan agreement worth $2 billion under the Foreign Military Financing program. This loan will be used to develop air and missile defence capabilities. Although the Ministry did not specify, it is most likely for the Patriot/IBCS air defence system, for which Poland plans to spend over $11 billion under three FMS agreements signed in 2023 and 2024. This will allow for the implementation of the second phase of the Wisła air defence program and the Narew program. According to the Ministry, this is the second FMF loan agreement concluded recently. The FMF loan will likely be managed by the Armed Forces Support Fund.

East Front News is a weekly newsletter and article on summarizing the past week’s most important events concerning security and the situation in the Central and Eastern Europe region. It includes original opinions and comments, along with key news items significant from a Polish perspective. If you would like to receive this newsletter, please sign up by clicking here