Poland To Double The Size Of Its Army, Citing “Russia’s Imperial Ambitions”
Poland announced this past week that it plans to double the size of its army to 300,000 – which would make it the largest in the European Union – as it’s increasingly worried about destabilizing threats from Belarus, and also amid fresh Western media speculation of a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine.
On Tuesday deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski cited Poland’s sensitive geopolitical location as a buffer between central Europe and Russia, noting “Russia’s imperial ambitions” and the “hybrid warfare” waged by Lukashenko’s Belarus in the form of sending Muslim migrants en masse across Poland’s border.
Kaczynsk said the proposed defense bill aims to “radically” strengthen the nation’s armed forces. “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,” he told a news conference. He described the urgent need of Poland to maintain the “ability to effectively defend itself for a long time on its own” – given it’s on NATO and Europe’s eastern flank.
The reference to future scenarios where the army might have to hold out for “a long time on its own” concerns NATO – the suggestion being that NATO-decision making would be too slow in the event of an outbreak of conflict between Poland and Belarus or even Russia.
As the Associated Press recounts, Poland responded positively to the prior Trump administration’s calls for European NATO countries to quickly ramp up military spending, something which was greeted by many EU countries with pushback and anger:
The bill, which still needs approval from parliament and the president, is aimed at replacing an existing one from 1967. At that time Poland was a member of Warsaw Pact eastern military alliance, 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 GDP in defense.
Kaczynski said, speaking alongside Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak, that he believed the changes would also benefit NATO.
A big driver of the push for a greatly expanded military is migration pressure coming from Belarus. Poland has on multiple occasions angrily denounced what it says are intentional efforts by Minsk to use the migrant crisis as retaliation for Western sanctions on the Lukashenko government. Poland has been sending troop reinforcements to the border as a result.
Some have claimed that Belarusian forces are literally forcing Middle Eastern migrants to confront Polish guards at border fences…
Pushed by the Lukashenka’s secret service, illegal immigrants are destroying the barbed wire on the Belarus-Poland border, trying to get into 🇪🇺. 🇵🇱 border guards are restoring the fence. Only yesterday, 524 migrants were stopped by 🇵🇱 border control. pic.twitter.com/i2lu4VXZLh
— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) October 17, 2021
In recent days there have been accusations and counter-accusations between Poland and Belarus of armed confrontation and aggression. “In a tit-for-tat round of recriminations, Belarus summoned Poland’s top diplomat in Minsk on Thursday to protest claims made earlier this week by Warsaw that Belarusian border guards had threatened to open fire on a Polish patrol,” reports VOA News.
The migrant influx into Poland, Lithuania and Latvia has resulted in each country militarizing their borders. There’s also been a recent flurry of diplomatic protests, which either side summoning ambassadors – though Belarus has officially denied being behind the migrant caravans, which are said to be mostly made up of Iraqis.
Sun, 11/07/2021 – 07:35
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