Scholars of middle powers have been trying to solve its definitional issues and some progress has been made in the systemic approach. This article shows that further advancement may be gained by employing neoclassical realism in studying middle powers’ foreign policy behaviour. This done by analysing Poland’s policy towards Russia in 2005–2007. It is widely accepted in academic literature that Poland in 2005–2007, during the rule of the Law and Justice Party, pursued a confrontational policy towards Russia. However, this article challenges such widespread views. It demonstrates that Poland’s policy towards Russia was actually simultaneously based on balancing and engagement. Using a neoclassical realist framework and data gathered from interviews with Poland’s main foreign policymakers at that time, this article shows that the balancing was caused by the power asymmetry and differing interests between Russia and Poland, whereas the engagement – by the Polish policymakers’ attempts to influence Russia’s intentions towards Poland and by their perceived situation in the European balance of power.