Poland plans ‘radical’ strengthening of military

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Poland’s ruling party leader presented plans for a homeland defense bill on October 26, 2021, aimed at “radically” strengthening the military as the country faces migration pressure from its eastern neighbor Belarus.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the deputy prime minister who is undisputedly the most powerful politician in Poland, said the bill is needed because of a deteriorating international situation. Examples he gave included neighboring “Russia’s imperial ambitions” and the hybrid warfare being waged by Belarus against Poland and other European Union nations using migrants.

“If we want to avoid the worst, that is war, we have to act according to the old rule: ‘If you want peace, prepare for war,’” Kaczynski, pictured, said at a news conference in Warsaw.

He argued that, as a country that lies on the eastern flank of the European Union and NATO, Poland must have a serious deterrent force and the “ability to effectively defend itself for a long time on its own.”

NATO decisions take time to implement, he said.

The bill, which needs approval from Parliament and the president, is aimed at replacing an existing one from 1967. At that time Poland was a member of the Warsaw Pact eastern military alliance, which was under Moscow’s control. Since 1999 it has been a member of NATO and is regularly cited as one of the few alliance members that invest at least 2% of its gross domestic product in defense.

Kaczynski said, speaking alongside Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, that he believed the changes would also benefit NATO. Kaczynski and Blaszczak presented a plan to increase the defense budget and to more than double the size of the military to at least 250,000 Soldiers and 50,000 Reserves. The changes do not involve a reinstatement of compulsory military service.

Kaczynski also said Poland hopes to strengthen its forces by buying U.S.-produced military equipment but would also look at European-made weapons.

The plan to strengthen the Army comes as Poland faces heavy migration pressure from Belarus. Warsaw accuses the Belarusian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging migrants from the Mideast, Africa and elsewhere to seek entry to the EU through Poland.

 

IMAGE CREDIT: AFP/GETTY IMAGES