Poland building largest land army in EU: Ruling party chief

Poland building largest land army in EU: Ruling party chief

As tensions mount along Polish and Belarusian borders with Belarus, Jaroslaw Kaczynski says not to lecture those who are building Europe’s strongest land army

By Jo Harper

WARSAW (AA) – Poland is building the largest land army in the EU, said the head of Poland’s ruling party on Friday.

“Do not lecture those who are building the most powerful land army in the EU,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, told Polish news agency PAP, seeking to rebuff former Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who now leads the opposition Civic Platform (PO).

Poland has committed to at least 3% of its GDP spending on defense and has already signed large contracts with contractors from the US and South Korea. With parliamentary elections coming this fall, Tusk recently accused the ruling party of planning to suspend democracy due to tensions on Poland's eastern border with Belarus.

Kaczynski also downplayed a Tuesday incident in which two Belarusian helicopters allegedly violated Polish airspace.

“It was a very short provocation. And only someone extremely stupid could fall for it, that is, to shoot real missiles at the helicopters. Of course, (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and (Belarus’ President Alexander) Lukashenko would be happy about that,” Kaczynski said.

“They are helpless. They know that we are in NATO, we have strengthened protection of the border and we will not allow a return to the doctrine from the times of the Tusk government, about defending Poland on the Vistula line,” Kaczynski said, referring to a military doctrine that placed Polish defense further west along the Vistula River.

The Defense Ministry on Tuesday said that two Belarusian helicopters had violated Polish airspace near the village of Bialowieza.

Belarus denied the claim, saying the helicopters were about 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from the border.

Marcin Wojciechowski, Poland's charge d'affaires in the capital Minsk, was called on Thursday by Belarus’ Foreign Ministry to explain the alleged incursion.

According to the Belarusian news service BelTA, the ministry urged Poland not to escalate the situation or use it to justify a buildup of its troops along the border.

After members of the Wagner Group went to Belarus following their failed revolt, Poland has said many went to the Polish border, and warned this might be a precursor to hybrid warfare.

As a NATO member bordering both Ukraine and Belarus, Russia’s main ally in its war against Ukraine, Poland occupies a tense space between NATO and Russian-allied countries.

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