Thursday, July 27, 2023

"Poland’s Blooming Relationship With South Korea"

From Emerging Europe, July 17:

According to South Korea’s president, Poland is a gateway for Korean companies to enter Europe and a strategic logistics hub. ‘It is our most important cooperation partner in Central and Eastern Europe.’ 

Poland’s relationship with South Korea is blossoming. Ahead of a visit to Warsaw last week by the South Korean president, Yoon Suk Yeol, national airline LOT announced plans to start a weekly, direct flight from Wrocław to Seoul in November, complementing its four direct flights per week to the Korean capital from Warsaw. 

Launch of the route is not as random or surprising as it first appears. Wrocław is home to Korean-owned LG Energy Solution Wrocław, Europe’s largest producer of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, employing almost 10,000 people. It is one of many strategic South Korean investments in Poland, which also includes a Hyundai polypropylene plant in Szczecin, where production began in June. 

Poland’s privately-owned energy firm ZE PAK, which currently produces energy at four plants mainly from coal, and state-owned energy giant PGE, last year joined forces with Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) to assess the viability of building four 1,400-megawatt nuclear reactors in Pątnów, using South Korean technology 

Seoul’s Incheon Airport – where those flights from Wrocław will land – is an advisor to Poland’s Solidarity Hub, or CPK, an integrated air, rail and road transport hub the Warsaw government wants to build in the centre of the country. In addition to being the largest airport in Central and Eastern Europe, CPK is also intended to deliver roughly 2,000 kilometres of new, largely high-speed railway lines linking Warsaw to Poland’s regions and beyond.....


And tanks. Some of the best tanks in the world. Tanks designed to withstand a North Korean onslaught:

These aren't just any tanks. From the introduction to September's "Poland Will Have a Large and Modern Tank Army

One of the odder comments on Russia's war against Ukraine was making the rounds last week, to the effect that Russia buying munitions from North Korea was a sign of weakness.

It is more likely a sign that North Korea's war plans are very similar to Russia's, lots, and I mean lots of artillery, and the shells to go with them. It actually seems natural.

In the same vein, Poland's joint venture with South Korea to secure a whole bunch of tanks seems very smart. These are the tanks Seoul developed to hold back the North Koreans and they are reputed to be among the best in the world....

There is much more than just buying arms and armaments going on here. Because of the hostility toward Poland's government from Brussels, and the possibility that at some point in the future NATO's Article 5 will be invoked by Poland only to be met with reluctant mobilization on the part of the other NATO members or, worse, silence, Poland wants at minimum to have the capability to slow-down any future attack. Memories are long in that part of the world and everyone remembers what happened to Czechoslovakia in 1938, what with the 'Peace for our time' and all. 

This attitude on the part of the Poles is exactly the same as their reasoning on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, February 2018: "Polish PM: Nord Stream II Would Make Russia Free to act Against Ukraine, So Must Not be Built".

When Germany and the EU decided to go ahead with the pipeline, despite a half-decade of warnings* from Poland, the Poles bought themselves a geopolitical insurance policy, the President Lech Kaczyński LNG facility in Świnoujście, about eight feet from the German border on the Baltic. Which they expanded. And expanded again while offering Germany some of the gas if Germany would just think twice about Nord Stream 2.

The thing to know about insurance policies is you have to pay the premium up front and it can be a very visible cost. Which will only seem prudent should something bad happen.

But there are some things you can't measure in zlotys alone.
(or rubles or euros or krone or...) 

—the outro from November 2022's "Saab Signs Contract for Two SIGINT ships for Poland" (plus some other stuff)