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POLAND TO STOP ARMS SUPPORT TO UKRAINE AND FRANCE WITHDRAWING AMBASSADOR AND TROOPS FROM NIGER

September 21-27, 2023 | Issue 33 - EUCOM

Barbara Batycka, Antoni Mulock Houwer

Mia Sadler, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor


Poland[1]


Date: September 21, 2023

Location: Poland

Parties involved: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki; Poland; Polish parliament; Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS); Polish Confederation Party (Konfederacja); Polish military; Polish arms manufacturers; Polish spokesman Piotr Muller; Polish State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin; Polish agriculture minister; Polish farmers; Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; Ukraine; Ukrainian military; Ukrainian agriculture minister; Ukrainian farmers; US; Russia

The event: Poland announced it would stop supplying Ukraine with weapons as tensions grow over a grain dispute. Warsaw will now focus on replenishing its arms stockpiles while fulfilling previous security agreements for ammunition and armaments between the states. Political opponents accuse the ruling PiS party of withholding aid as a political move for the upcoming Polish parliamentary elections, where the far-right party Confederation is pushing a growing anti-Ukrainian sentiment.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Poland’s decision to withhold ammunition and weapons will almost certainly negatively impact Ukraine's military capabilities, likely hindering their ongoing counteroffensive. Ukraine will almost certainly have to adjust its logistical and military strategy, likely turning to other allies, such as the US, for increased military and economic support. It is unlikely that Ukraine will be able to compensate for the lost armaments, which the Russian military will very likely exploit, such as with increased offensive operations or diversionary tactics.

  • With approaching parliamentary elections, Poland will very likely prioritize internal party dynamics over international relationships. The PiS will almost certainly pursue further hard-line policies against Ukraine and the EU, aiming to sway far-right voters supporting the populist Konfederacja. There is a roughly even chance that Poland will issue more anti-EU statements to gain further support from the EU-opposing citizens, cementing their House majority.

  • The suspension of new arms will very likely increase tension among Polish and Ukrainian citizens. Ukrainians in Poland will almost certainly experience strained relations, likely perceiving the Polish government as an antagonist. Polish volunteers in Ukraine will likely face minor hostilities, but it is very unlikely that this will escalate into violence. Ukrainian soldiers’ morale will likely decrease in the short term but is very unlikely to be affected by the tension in the long term.


Date: September 24, 2023

Location: France

Parties involved: French President Emmanuel Macron; France; French troops in Niger; French Ambassador to Niger Sylvain Itté; Niger; Niger junta ("putschist"); Niger President Mohammed Bazoum; Niger citizens; Russia; Russian paramilitary company; Wagner Group; Islamist extremist groups; Arab militia groups

The event: France announced it would withdraw its ambassador and military troops stationed in Niger. The decision comes amid pressure from the junta and popular demonstrations following the militia-led coup in June. By the end of the year, 1,500 troops will return to France, hindering French counterinsurgency efforts and influence in the region. Macron continues to denounce the legitimacy of the militia leadership.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Regional non-state actors will very likely leverage the instability from the withdrawal of French troops to gain power. Wagner Group’s activity in Mali will likely lead to a possible partnership with the putschist forces, very likely increasing Russian influence in the region. Given their significant presence in Eastern Africa, there is a roughly even chance that Arab militia groups will exploit the lack of military oversight and expand their influence into Niger.

  • Regional anti-French sentiment will almost certainly continue growing, likely elevating the risk of coups and armed conflicts in the former French colonies surrounding Niger. France will very likely allocate more resources to French-aligned African nations, likely to maintain their presence and protect their regional economic and security interests. Islamist extremist groups will almost certainly take advantage of Niger’s instability and expand their operations in the Sahel. France’s refusal to recognize the junta’s authority will almost certainly exacerbate tensions and render any efforts for counterinsurgency collaboration very unlikely.

 

[1] Poland by Google Maps

[2] Poland, with election looming, says it isn't sending new arms to Ukraine, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/article/ukraine-crisis-poland-idAFKBN30R0HZ

[3] France to pull troops out of Niger following coup, Reuters, September 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/france-pull-troops-out-niger-following-coup-says-macron-2023-09-24/

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