On October 26, Poland’s ruling party leader presented plans for a homeland defense bill which he said is aimed at “radically” strengthening the military as the country faces migration pressure from its eastern neighbor Belarus. This was reported by The Associated Press.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the deputy prime minister who is undisputedly the most powerful politician in Poland, said the bill is needed due to a deteriorating international situation and also to Poland’s geopolitical location. 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 said at a news conference in Warsaw.
He argued that, as a country which 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.”
He noted NATO decisions take time to implement.
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.
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.
Earlier, the UN called on the European Union and Belarus to immediately find a solution for migrants stranded on the Polish-Belarusian border. It is expected that the crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border will last longer than several months.
Germany also strengthened the protection of border with Poland. The number of illegal migrants entering Germany across the border with Poland has grown significantly in October this year. In particular, in August, 713 people were found illegally arriving in Germany at the German-Polish border, of which 474 arrived through Belarus. In September, the number of illegal entries through Poland increased to 2,323 people, of which 1903 got through Belarus.
Earlier, EU accused Belarus of 'direct attack' over illegal migrants. The European Union accuses Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the arrival of thousands of people at the borders of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in retaliation for sanctions imposed on the former Soviet republic.