Executive Summary

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has significantly altered the strategic and political landscape of Europe, impacting European and Transatlantic integration processes. This article analyzes the Polish public debate surrounding the ambitions of Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Moldova to join NATO and the EU. Utilizing an analysis of public statements, academic texts, media content, and top Facebook posts, it categorizes the cases into two groups: North Macedonia and Moldova, widely supported in the Polish public debate, and Ukraine, with substantial support but notable critics. The Polish infosphere exhibits increased activity on the accession plans of Moldova, North Macedonia, and Ukraine. The majority of posts, particularly focusing on Ukraine, convey positive sentiments.

The discussion on Facebook, dominated by politicians, highlights Ukraine's centrality due to its connection to the Russian invasion, close ties with Poland, and potential impact on Eastern European security. Poland strongly supports the European and Transatlantic ambitions of Ukraine, North Macedonia, and Moldova. Government officials, including the President and Prime Minister, advocate for expedited accession paths, emphasizing strategic importance and stability in Central and Eastern Europe. However, cracks in support for Ukraine have emerged, with some critics highlighting conflicting interests and tensions between the two governments. Polish support for Ukraine's EU and NATO accession remains strong, but a shift from solidarity to interest-based relations is observed. While initial sentiment was overwhelmingly positive, realism is entering the discourse, addressing economic and security concerns. The rise of critical voices, especially from the far-right Confederation party, underscores potential challenges in the Polish-Ukrainian relationship.

Moldova's ambitions receive overwhelmingly positive support in the Polish public debate, focusing on its strategic importance for Eastern Europe's security. Government officials openly back Moldova's accession to the EU and NATO, with an emphasis on countering Russian aggression and hybrid threats.

The topic of North Macedonian accession receives less attention in Poland compared to Ukraine and Moldova. Political support, led by President Duda, underscores its inclusion in the 2025 Polish Presidency priorities. The discussion largely revolves around EU enlargement in the broader context of Western Balkans relations, with no identified negative sentiment.

In order to strengthen Polish government communication around these topics, more attention should be put on creation of more resilient information space for foreign hostile manipulation and to support accession plans of the three countries. It should include capacity  building to counter foreign malign influence in Poland's information space, including creation of a platform for sharing information among entities and stakeholders analyzing the information environment, establishing a dialogue with Ukraine on potential conflicting interests, fostering a collaborative approach before formal accession processes begin, and implementation of a realistic information policy on Ukraine’s war costs and benefits of European accession, addressing societal expectations.



The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine shifted significantly the strategic and political landscape of Europe by accelerating political processes and changing perception of security issues within European societies and political circles. This also affected the processes of European and Transatlantic integration, especially in the case of Ukraine, which ambitions has been prioritised, but it also created a positive momentum that could be utilized by the countries such as North Macedonia and Moldova. This article presents an attempt to analyse the perspective of the Polish public debate around ambitions of Ukraine to join NATO and the EU, Nort Macedonia to join the EU, and Moldova to join NATO and the EU. It was developed by analysing public statements of Polish politicians, academic and expert texts, and Polish media content. This was supplemented by an analysis of the TOP 100 most popular Facebook posts on the subject by Polish politicians, journalists, experts and other public profiles. The three cases analysed in this article could be split up into two categories. On one side we have North Macedonia and Moldova, which European ambition are fully supported in the Polish public debate without substantial opponents, and Ukraine which accession is also highly supported in Poland, but not without open critics and opponents.

Public Debate Online

The topics of Moldavian, North Macedonian, and Ukrainian accessions in the Polish infosphere are generating increasingly more activity. From the pool of the top posts concerning accession plans of either of these countries, almost 80% were positive, 10.5% negative, and 9,5% neutral. These results reflect in a good way the Polish public debate sentiment around the topic. It has to be noted, that the vast majority of this activity focuses solely on Ukraine.

The first reason is that Ukraine topic is connected to the Russian full-scale invasion, which has been in the global centre of attention for last 20 months, and which also dominated Polish infosphere and political debate. The second reason is the close relationship between Poland and Ukraine, involving Polish military and economic assistance to Kyiv, Poland being a logistical hub for Western military aid, residence of more than 2 million Ukrainians in Poland, but also common problematic historical issues, and a number of contentious issues. The third reason is that the potential Ukrainian accession to NATO can reshape security situation in Eastern Europe, and its accession to the UE can shift Polish political position in Brussels. The fourth reason is that the potential accession of North Macedonia and Moldova will not affect economic or political interests of Poland and is rather seen as a step to stabilise Easter Europe and Balkans.

While the North Macedonia and Moldova topics are mostly discussed by Government officials and policy experts, Ukraine engage into the debate politicians from every camp, experts, journalists, publicists and ordinary people. Majority of the identified top content (56.77%) concerned the EU enlargement topic, with 77% containing positive messages, 16% neutral, and 7% negative.





In the case of the NATO topic, 83.5% of the top posts had positive sentiment, 15.5% negative, and around 1% were neutral. While both of the topics generate mostly supportive content, it can be seen that the topic of potential NATO enlargements is less polarizing. This can be connected with the view that NATO expansion will mean greater security and stability for Poland, while the EU enlargement, especially to Ukraine, is connected with economical and political issues for Warsaw. The public conversation on Facebook was hijacked mostly by politicians, with the late Government officials and the President. The most posts were published by the page of the Chancellery of the President, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and President Andrzej Duda. They were followed mostly be media outlets and politicians from other parties, including members of the new government, as Radoslaw Sikorski, current Minister of Foreign Affairs.




Political Conversation

The general Polish sentiment towards European and transatlantic ambitions of these three countries has to be described as highly supportive. This has been articulated on many occasions by the Polish President, Prime Minister, opposition leaders, and experts.

The EU and NATO enlargements are generally seen of strategical importance for Poland, and important factor on the way to strengthen security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe. Polish officials are attempting to play a leading role in advocating for the EU and NATO enlargements, openly opting for facilitating a fast track accession path for Ukraine or accelerating the accessions of North Macedonia and Moldova. Especially vocal in this context are representatives of the late Government who were presenting support for the EU enlargement for the last few years. This trend accelerated after the Russian full-scale invasion in February 2022. While Ukraine became centre of political and media gravity, Polish support for North Macedonian and Moldavian accessions also strengthened. Especially in the case of Chisinau, as it became a matter of its security and stability upon possible Russian hostile military activity in Transnistria. In the wake of the first weeks after the invasion, as the shocking waves shifted European political debate to recognize Kremlin’s aggressive policy, Polish government started to advocate stronger for the enlargements and presented them as a necessary step towards creating peace and stability in Eastern Europe and Balkans. This was also the case with Ukraine, when Warsaw quickly became an advocate for Kyiv’s accession to both, the EU and NATO. First 12 months after the full-scale invasion have been marked by a full and unconditional Polish support for Ukraine, including in the context of its European and transatlantic ambitions.

While the support is still strong, the second year of the war started to unveil some cracks in the relations between Warsaw and Kyiv, what let the minority of the Ukraine’s accessions critics and anti-Ukrainian circles be more heard in the public debate. In the same time, some disputed issues have also started to create tensions between the two governments. While this should not have substantial effects on the support itself, it might mean that Warsaw stance will be stiffened and focused more on acting through realising Polish interests, which in some areas are different to Kyiv’s.










In June 2022, Polish and Ukrainian governments published a joint statement, declaring Polish support for Ukraine’s accession to the EU and NATO, and stating that Warsaw will take up actions to grant Ukraine candidate status for EU membership in 2022[1].  Similarly, Polish society was highly supportive in 2022. In a survey conducted in March 2022 for Rzeczpospolita, more than 85% of respondents supported Ukraine’s membership in the EU and NATO[2]. The survey was conducted just after few weeks of the full-scale invasion and illustrates very well the Polish nation emotions at the moment of national upsurge in the face of shocking military aggression.

The identified public discussion around the issue of Ukraine joining NATO and the EU is engaging politicians from all political sides, journalists and experts. The discussion can be divided into two stages, similarly as the general Polish-Ukrainians relations after the full-scale invasion. The first, lasting about a year after the invasion, was driven by solidarity, compassion and optimism expressed by whole Polish society towards Ukraine and Ukrainians. The second, visible from around mid 2023, was dominated by conflicting interests of the both countries and shift towards interest-based relation. The first months after the 24th of February, were marked by Polish unconditional help towards Ukrainians and fully pro-Ukrainian communication. Already in February 2022, President Duda, stated that “Poland is in favour of an express path for Ukraine’s membership in the EU, candidate status should be granted immediately and membership negotiations started immediately thereafter”[3]. While currently the sentiment towards Kyiv’s potential accessions is still positive, more realistic statements and communications, from politicians and experts, can be heard in mainstream media. In November 2023, Marek Sawicki, MP from the new government coalition, stated in the context of the Polish-Ukrainian transport dispute that  “(he) believes that the new authorities should say to the Ukrainians very firmly and decisively: either you stop discriminating against Polish transport, or we will block your membership of the European Union”[4]. The two statements quoted above illustrate the shift in approach to Ukraine.

Similarly, the shift, can be visible when analysing opinion polls. In December 2022, 79% of those questioned supported Ukraine’s entry to NATO, while 69% supported Ukraine's membership in the EU[5]. According to another poll[6], conducted in July 2023, as many as 47.7% of those surveyed do not agree that Ukraine could already become a member of NATO. Although these results cannot be directly compared, as they asked different questions, they illustrate well the beforementioned shift.

While the Polish support for Ukraine accession to the EU and NATO is still highly positive, critical voices could also be heard since the first days after the Russian full-scale invasion. On the political stage, the most vocal in this sphere was far-right Confederation party (pl. Konfederacja). Its officials took anti-Ukrainian stands on many occasions and in different contexts. This included statements openly critical to Ukrainian European and Transatlantic ambitions. They are mostly cantered around three main topics: security, economy and Polish interests in general. One of the Confederation leaders, at that time, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, has been drawing attention to security concerns regarding Ukraine accession to NATO, which, according to him, in todays circumstances, would mean NATO’s involvement in the war and deployment of Polish soldiers to Ukraine[7]. Similarly, Confederation, stands against Kyiv’s accession to the EU. In an official statement, the party, declared in November 2023, that “The Confederation calls on the Polish government, from whatever party this government may be formed, to block the absurd idea of admitting Ukraine to the European Union (...) We have Ukraine, a country that is mired in war. A country that is riddled with corruption. We hear this on a regular basis. Every week there is an article about corruption, which is destroying not only the Ukrainian economy, but even the Ukrainian military effort. Because it turns out, for example, that some of the military aid going to Ukraine does not get to the front at all but dissolves somewhere along the way”[8]. Critics are also drawing attention to economic hardships that the accession can bring to Poland. They are especially focusing on areas where Ukraine and Poland have different interests and are competitors, like transportation and agriculture sectors.

While voices like these were oppressed and not visible in the Polish public debate in the first 12 months after the Russian full-scale invasion, since the mid 2023 are increasingly observable. The first months were dominated by solidarity, full support toward Ukraine and an optimistic approach, communicated by politicians, experts and commentators, what created sense of upcoming swift win of Ukraine, facilitated by costless Polish aid and help, which would be followed by a close cooperation between Warsaw and Kyiv, without regard to any conflicting interest, that were visible before the Russian full-scale invasion. While this narrative created very positive sentiment within the Polish society, it was from the start built on an unrealistic prospect, what in the same time resulted in unrealistic expectations of the Polish society and political class towards the war outcomes, Ukraine and bilateral relations.  

The topic of Ukrainian accessions to NATO and the EU is actively used by Russian disinformation and propaganda sources. These also includes narratives and malign content published in the context of Poland, targeting European and Transatlantic ambitions of Kyiv, and relation between Poland and Ukraine. An example of that presents statement by Maria Zakharova, Spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, who said that “Poland does not want Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO, because it wants to get its territories”. Zakharova used a Russian propaganda narrative, saying that Poland is planning to seize Western Ukraine, which is leveraged by Kremlin for decades. While this is an example of a direct disinformation message targeting the Ukrainian accession plans, using propaganda narrative involving Poland, the Russian disinformation ecosystem is constantly attempting to degrade image of Ukraine, divide Poles and Ukrainians and distort facts about Polish-Ukrainian relations. It is done by a persistent flood of propaganda and disinformation content, produced and amplified by Russian diplomats, state-affiliated media, pro-Russian propaganda outlets, local disinformation proxies and pro-Russian individuals.


Moldavian ambitions to join the EU and NATO are in comparison to Ukraine substantially less commented and analysed in the Polish information space. Although Moldavian topic generate less content, it is almost entirely positive towards Chisinau plans. The identified public discussion around it, is engaging mostly government representatives and experts. An example of that engagement is a statement of Polish President, Andrzej Duda, that accession of Moldova and other candidate countries should form a priority of the Polish foreign policy and the upcoming Polish presidency in the EU Council[9]. This favourable stance was also confirmed by representatives of Polish government, including the Polish Minister of Finance, Magdalena Rzeczkowska[10], and the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, who openly backed Moldovan accession to the EU and underscored, an active role, that Warsaw would like to play in that process[11]. Morawiecki emphasized also an important role of Moldova’s accession in ensuring security and stability in Eastern Europe. According to him, in the face of Russian hybrid and information threats targeting Moldova, the EU should create an accelerated path of accession for Chisinau[12].  These statements are presenting very well the Polish government stance on Moldova’s accession to the EU and NATO. The Polish official support for Moldova was confirmed in June 2023, when Polish and Moldavian Parliaments signed a joint declaration expressing Poland’s support for Moldova’s accession to the EU and the Moldovan government’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with NATO[13]. This approach should not change when the power will be transferred to the new government, following elections from 15th of October. This can be evidenced by online activity of then opposition politicians. Pawel Kowal, MP from Civic Platform (Polish: Platforma Obywatelska) posted on his Facebook about his informal meeting with Vice Prime Minister of Moldova, where they discussed the topic of Chisinau accession to the EU and NATO, and where Kowal supported these ideas.

The sentiment of the identified online discussion around Moldavian accession to the EU is highly positive. Large part of it consist of official communication from profiles belonging to politicians and government officials. An example of this is a Facebook post from Morawiecki official profile, stating that it is finally time to build a bridge between old Europe and new Europe, including Moldova[14].

Large part of Media coverage position Moldova’s accession to NATO in the context of the recent aggressive Russian policy and hybrid threats toward Chisinau. Kremlins hostile activity is framed as a defining moment for Moldova’s foreign policy, which makes its accession to NATO no longer a taboo subject[15].

Negative messaging about Moldova accessions were coming mostly from media reporting on or echoing Russian officials statements. In one of these, Sergey Lavrov, stated that Moldavian President Maia Sandu was installed in her position by West, with goal to push Moldova towards NATO and later allow it to be incorporated by Romania[16]. No direct propaganda or disinformation narratives targeting Moldova’s European ambition in Poland could be identified.

North Macedonia

The topic of North Macedonian accession to the EU is less discussed in the Polish information space in comparison to both, Ukraine and Moldova. In most of the identified cases, North Macedonian accession is considered and analysed in the broader context of the EU enlargement towards Western Balkans. The full support of the Polish political class for this project was confirmed by, among others, Polish President Andrzej Duda, who stated that the EU enlargement, including of North Macedonia, will be a fundamental priority for the upcoming 2025 Polish Presidency of the EU Council[17].

The identified public discussion about North Macedonian accession mostly focuses on reporting about Political statements and parliamentary debates on the issue, held both in Poland and on the UE level[18].  The public debate on the issue was mostly encompassed by think-tanks and expert organizations, with only individual cases of opinion texts within Polish mainstream media. In one of them, the EU enlargement towards Western Balkans was portrayed as a historical opportunity, that Brussels should not miss. In the other, the author argues, that the Macedonian accession should be seen as an important factor towards ensuring security in stability in Balkans. He also noted that the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine rapidly accelerated many political processes, what should also include the EU enlargement.

Besides the official statements from the government and online interventions of various Polish politicians, the topic of North Macedonian accession to the EU is not visible in the Polish information space. In the most of the cases, Skopje’s ambitions are analysed and commented in a broader context of Western Balkans relations with Brussels. In the same time, none negative posts or content in this context could be identified in the online sphere.

Recommendations for stakeholders and policymakers:

  • The communication on the possible Ukraine’s accession to the EU and NATO should be based on fact-based reporting and content, rather than on emotion-based content. Emotion based communication around Ukraine since the Russian full-scale invasion created an unrealistic set of expectations within the Polish society. It included expectancy of an unproblematic cooperation between Warsaw and Kyiv, Polish aid to Ukraine without any cost and negative implications for the polish economy and interests, and full alignment of political, economical and security interests between Poland and Ukraine. When the problematic issues started to surface, and both governments changed its rhetoric to more interests-based, the Polish public found itself disappointed by Ukrainian actions, which did not meet artificially inflated expectations. This in consequence can have a substantial influence of the Polish society stance towards Ukrainian ambitions.
  • The communication should include both, potential advantages and disadvantages of the Ukrainian accessions to the EU and NATO. It should be used to prepare society for the realistic costs for Poland, and position them in a bigger picture of positives coming out of the successful Ukrainian accession. It should additionally emphasize the strategic, security and political reasons why the Poland should remain a solid supporter of Ukrainian accessions.  
  • The communication around Moldova’s accessions to the EU and NATO should focus on underlying its strategic importance for security and stability in Eastern Europe, especially in the context of the Russian aggressive policy.
  • Additionally, it should be underlined that the Moldova’s accession to the EU will not bring negative economic or political consequences for Poland, and will open a new market for Polish companies.
  • The accession of North Macedonia should be pictured as a strategic for enhancing stability in the Balkans, and as a process not threatening any Polish interests. It also should be presented as a historic opportunity for the whole Western Balkans region, especially in the context of the Russian full-scale invasion.
  • The newly formed government should continue the firm stance behind Ukrainian accession plans to NATO and the EU, and underline its necessity in a longer term. While the feasibility of the Kyiv’s accession to the EU in a near future remains low, especially due to negative approach of some EU states,  Polish activities should focus on advocating for open EU’s political support for Ukraine accession and creating special accession-path, that would be adjusted for the specific war-related situation of Ukraine.
  • Polish governmental entities (such as ministerial stratcoms) should strengthen their capacity for timely detection and reporting of foreign malign influence, including content targeting relation between Poland and Ukraine and its European and Transatlantic ambitions. This capacity should include a creation of a platform for sharing information between entities and stakeholders analysing Polish information space. Based on systematically gathered data, information campaign should be design, to pre-bunk and debunk potentially most hostile narratives.
  • Polish government should create an action plan to identify potential areas of conflicting interests between Warsaw and Kyiv and social groups which interests may be most threatened by Ukraine’s accession to the EU, in order to establish Polish-Ukrainian dialogue and disarm potential conflicts before the formal accession process starts. This could allow to minimalize negative effects of particular social or economic group stance on the Polish approach to Kyiv’s accession.
  • One of the Polish goals within the EU should be to advocate for minimalization of potential radical shift of financial transfers in favour of Ukraine at the expense of Poland. This applies in particular to Common agricultural policy and Cohesion Fund, which Poland is the biggest beneficiary, and which big part of, according to the current legislation, would have to be shifted towards Ukraine. Adjustment of theses mechanisms would require reforms of common policies.
  • Implementing a broad information policy that would make the public aware of the huge costs of Ukraine's potential defeat in the war with Russia and comparing them with the much lower costs resulting from Ukraine’s European accession to the EU. Additionally the communication should emphasize more benefits and profits from the accession process. This has to be done in a contrast to the late government, whose information policy based on emotional approach to the war in Ukraine, and which effected with an unnaturally optimistic expectations for the war outcomes and its effects on Polish economy and political situation.
  • Poland should continue open advocating for Ukraine’s NATO aspirations. This should include taking up leadership in discussing perspective of formal invitation of Ukraine to the Alliance.
  • Poland should consider opening talks with Kyiv about bilateral security agreement, that would follow one established lately between Ukraine and the UK. This could serve as a temporary measure to establish closer military relations, which could serve later as a base for easier military integration within NATO. It could also be seen as an intermediate step towards the full integration of Ukraine with NATO.
  • President Andrzej Duda and Polish government should position enlargement of the EU towards Western Balkans and Moldova as one of their priorities during Polish Presidency of the EU Council, which will start on the 1st of January 2025. This should especially emphasize the window of opportunity for these enlargements that occurred after the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.


[1] https://poland.mfa.gov.ua/pl/news/polska-popiera-przystapienie-ukrainy-do-ue-i-nato

[2] https://www.rp.pl/spoleczenstwo/art35814901-sondaz-polacy-chca-ukrainy-w-unii-europejskiej-i-nato

[3] https://www.prezydent.pl/aktualnosci/wydarzenia/prezydent-polska-za-ekspresowa-sciezka-czlonkostwa-ukrainy-w-ue,49506

[4] https://dorzeczy.pl/opinie/508449/blokada-ukrainy-w-ue-sawicki-stawia-ukrainie-warunki.html

[5] https://oko.press/polska-niemcy-ukraina-ue-nato-sondaz

[6] https://www.rp.pl/kraj/art38721291-sondaz-ukraina-w-nato-polacy-nie-teraz

[7] https://www.facebook.com/100077252173178/posts/290956286822775

[8] https://konfederacja.pl/przyjecie-ukrainy-do-unii-europejskiej-to-pomysl-absurdalny/

[9] https://www.prezydent.pl/aktualnosci/wypowiedzi-prezydenta-rp/wystapienia/wypowiedz-prezydenta-w-19-rocznice-przystapienia-polski-do-ue,67730

[10] https://www.bankier.pl/wiadomosc/Polska-popiera-aspiracje-Moldawi-do-wejscia-do-Unii-Europejskiej-8615150.html

[11] https://www.tvp.info/70264782/premier-morawiecki-o-moldawii-unia-europejska-i-nowi-czlonkowie

[12] Ibidem.

[13] https://www.facebook.com/100045279756183/posts/775148164004502

[14] https://www.facebook.com/100044431989580/posts/740145624143164

[15] https://www.facebook.com/173873282095/posts/10158873064437096

[16] https://www.facebook.com/100050615295789/posts/738377641192739

[17] https://www.facebook.com/100064877103354/posts/685569066948991


[18] https://www.facebook.com/100044643480049/posts/762660151898761