05 July 2023

UK and Poland sign agreement to deepen foreign policy and defence co-operation

05 July 2023

The UK hailed Poland as a “close friend and valued ally” as the two countries signed a new partnership aimed at deepening foreign policy and defence co-operation.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, alongside Polish national defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak and foreign affairs minister Zbigniew Rau, agreed joint priorities on issues including Belarus and China, the Ministry of Defence said.

The new 2030 Strategic Partnership signed at Lancaster House on Wednesday builds on the 2017 UK-Poland treaty, which provided a framework for enhanced co-operation between the two Nato allies, the ministers said.

At a meeting before the signing, the ministers discussed support for Ukraine and defence and security in the Euro-Atlantic area.

Mr Cleverly told a press conference later that the new partnership was an “evolution” and “enhancement” of an “already strong” treaty.

“For those that were expecting this quadrigo would be a fundamental shift compared with what went before, sadly, will be disappointed because the foundation stones were solid; the relationship is good, we find ourselves in natural alignment on many of the regional and global issues.

“(It is) one of the UK’s real points of positivity in our basket of international relationships,” he said.

Asked about overnight claims by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that Russia had planted “objects resembling explosives” on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, the minister said: “Obviously, I’m not going to comment on any of our domestic intelligence assessments but the broad point is that we would not even be having discussions of this nature were it not for the fact that Vladimir Putin initiated an unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year.

“We should never lose sight of the fact that the damage to civilian infrastructure, the damage to Ukrainian energy infrastructure, the rape and murder of Ukrainian people, the theft and deportation of Ukrainian children and the risks to nuclear power installations are all a direct result of Putin’s illegitimate and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”

The Foreign Secretary also renewed hopes for Ukraine to eventually join Nato, saying the evolution of its armed forces and its experience with Nato-standard equipment should “inevitably have shortened that timescale.”

He added: “Just as the UK and Poland fought together to preserve freedom in Europe during World War Two, so today the UK and Poland are standing together once more, at the forefront of international support for Ukraine.”

Mr Wallace praised Poland as “strong and supportive and brave” for putting “its money where its mouth is” in aiding Ukraine, including by helping to lift equipment into the country.

He said Britain and Poland will stand “side by side by Ukraine to husband them in” if the nation does end up joining the military alliance.

Mr Wallace said: “As historic defence partners and Nato Allies, the UK stands with Poland to defend Nato’s Eastern Flank and support Ukraine against Russian aggression.

“The 2030 strategic partnership strengthens our commitment to develop closer military deployments and exercises and deliver on immediate and long-term capability projects.”

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