SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s biggest ever arms deal will make it a major supplier of weapons flooding into Europe since the Ukraine war began, with sales to NATO-member Poland involving more than 1,600 tanks and howitzers, and nearly 50 fighter jets.
South Korean and Polish officials signed a framework agreement on Wednesday in Warsaw in a deal that Poland says is a key part of their efforts to rearm in the face of the war in Ukraine, where it has sent at least $1.7 billion in military aid.
The scale and speed of the multi-billion dollar deal caught some analysts off guard, as Poland has also been buying additional Abrams tanks from the United States and has been in a dispute with Germany over a request to obtain more Leopard tanks.
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that South Korea was the only player that could provide new weapons fast enough.
“It is extremely important that the first deliveries of howitzers and tanks will take place this year,” he said at the signing ceremony.
For the countries of NATO’s eastern flank, the prospect of cooperation with South Korea is particularly interesting, said Oskar Pietrewicz, an analyst with the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM).