Amid Russian military buildup, Poland reacts
WARSAW, Poland â" As Russia continues to bolster its military capacities along its western borders, neighboring NATO member states such as Poland are responding to the rising security concerns by adapting and expanding their capabilities. Warsaw is intensifying efforts to strengthen the Polish militaryâs air defense capacities, secure a permanent presence of U.S. troops on the countryâs soil and establish a new division of the operational forces in Polandâs east.
Moscow claims its military buildup comes in response to Western actions. Speaking at a meeting of Russian Defence Ministry leadership on July 24, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that âthe situation that develops in the western strategic direction requires us to continuously develop the combat capacities of our forces,â as quoted in a ministry statement.
Shoigu said that since 2016, more than 70 formations and mil itary units, including two divisions and three brigades, were set up in Russiaâs Western Military District. Established in 2010, the structure covers 26 entities of the Russian Federation, bordering Norway, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The minister said that Russian troops in the district have received some 5,000 units of new and overhauled weapons and equipment over the past years, raising the ratio of deployed new gear from 39 to 54 percent. By the end of this year, more than 350 new facilities are to be put into operation in the Western Military District.
New division in eastern Poland
Moscowâs defense efforts are shaping Polandâs plans to overhaul the structure of its operational forces.
On Aug. 15, on the occasion of Polandâs Armed Forces Day, Lt. Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak, the chief of the militaryâs General Staff, announced plans to set up a fourth division of the operational forces, which is to be located ea st of the Vistula River, which crosses Polandâs capital Warsaw.
"There is no doubt that a fourth division is necessary, we are already carrying out analytical work, and soon we will be able to present specific plans," Andrzejczak said, as reported by local news agency PAP.
Polandâs land forces currently comprise three divisions, with headquarters in Zagan, Szczecin and Elblag. The former two divisions comprise units located in western and northwestern Poland, reminiscence of the times when Poland was part of the Soviet Union-led Warsaw Pact. Creating a fourth division to shift the militaryâs operational capacities toward the eastern flank will likely represent one of the major challenges in the coming years for Andrzejczak, who was appointed to his post in July.
A considerable share of the military buildup takes place on Polandâs border with Russiaâs Kaliningrad exclave, a 15,100-square-kilometer (approximately 5,800-square -mile) territory on the Baltic Seaâs shore. As the Russian military has deployed Iskander-M missiles to Kaliningrad, locking Polandâs capital within the missileâs strike range, the Polish authorities have responded with intensified efforts to acquire air defense capacities.
On March 28, Poland inked a letter of offer and acceptance with the U.S. to purchase Raytheonâs medium-range Patriot system. The countryâs military is to acquire two Patriot Configuration 3+ batteries, with delivery scheduled for 2022.
The Polish government has also offered the U.S. financial support for the deployment of a permanent U.S. armored division in Poland. The document suggests support in the range of $1.5 billion to $2 billion.
âIt is important to share the burden of defense spending, make the decision more cost-effective for the U.S. Government, and allay any concerns for Congress in uncertain budgetary times," ; the document stated.
In an Aug. 7 interview with local broadcaster Polish Radio, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Warsaw is determined to strike a deal that would secure the permanent presence of U.S. troops in Poland.
âThis is a very promising direction. Iâm in contact with our American partners. My two visits to Washington, the talks held both at Pentagon and the White House with [then-national security adviser] Gen. [H.R.] McMaster and [then-]Ambassador [to the United Nations John] Bolton, were devoted to these issues,â Blaszczak said.
Source: Google News Poland | Netizen 24 Poland