Warsaw prepares for war with Moscow
Poland is building up its defences with US$ 14.5 billion in South Korean weapons, some of which could go to Ukraine. Germany’s seeming failure to help Ukraine against Russia’s aggression is proving controversial in bilateral relations. Warsaw wants a strong military deterrent against Moscow’s threats.
Moscow (AsiaNews) – Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Poland announced its intention to build the most powerful land force in the European Union. To this end, it will buy weapons from South Korea, its biggest purchase in recent history.
Warsaw’s shopping list includes 980 tanks, more than 600 self-propelled howitzers and 48 combat planes from South Korea. This is designed to replace equipment donated to Ukraine to fight the Russian invaders, as well as boost Poland’s own armed forces.
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said the total cost of the deal amounts to US$ 14.5 billion.
Some 180 K2 Black Panther tanks will be the first to arrive, while the rest will be assembled in Polish factories under South Korean licence.
The K2 is the latest battle tank, first deployed in 2014, the only fourth-generation tank in the world, and the most expensive (US$ 8.5 million a piece).
The other matériel is also the latest and highly effective, with threat recognition systems that meet NATO standards.
Poland plans to double the size of its land force, currently at 150,000, with a target of 400,000.
For Błaszczak, “The Polish army must be so numerous and so strong that its very existence scares away the aggressor. Kremlin potentates do not attack the strong, they attack when they see weakness”.
Poland spends 2.4 per cent of its gross domestic product on defence, and plans to increase it to 3 per cent next year, and 5 per cent by 2024.
The Polish military sector alone is capable of producing many heavy weapons, such as the PT-91 Twardy tanks, delivered in large numbers to Ukraine over the past month (the exact number is not public).
A spokesman for the Armaments Agency of the Ministry of Defence, Krzysztof Płatek, said that the shortage of tanks for the Ukrainians will be fully compensated, even up to twice as many since these tanks are much more powerful than those used so far.
Between February and June, Poland delivered more than 500 tanks to Ukraine. In the meantime, it is still waiting for supplies from Germany for Ukraine, so far only seen as symbolic, while it has run down its own reserves to help Ukraine.
Germany has denied allegations that it is not living up to its agreements with Poland. While agreeing that the “circular swap” within NATO is not working satisfactorily. For its foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, “we cannot replace every single tank overnight with a snap of our fingers."
For Siarhiej Pielasa, a journalist at Belsat, a Poland-based Belarusian TV channel, “the agreement with the Koreans is the biggest in all of recent history, after the fall of the communist regime, and it is surprising that it was made with Seoul and not with Washington or Berlin, as was the case in the past.”
Some of the Korean weapons could be transferred to Ukraine, secretly, like the 500 US M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) light multiple rocket launchers that are playing a crucial role in Ukraine’s counteroffensive against the Russian occupiers.
One of the best things about South Korea’s military industry is its ability to produce quickly. The 980 tanks Warsaw bought can be expected to be up and ready in a short period of time.
Historically, Poland has been one of Russia’s main foes. In his Russian campaign, Napoleon marched with 800,000 soldiers, almost half of them Polish. Today it is offering to take the military lead in Europe in view of a future in which war may not be avoided nor ignored.