Polish deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has proposed legislation to radically strengthen the country’s military capabilities amid pressure from neighboring Belarus and Russia.
Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw, Kaczynski explained that the homeland defense bill would address the deteriorating international situation and the problems presented by Poland’s geopolitical location.
The defense proposal recommends an increased number of troops to protect the nation’s territory, from the current 110,000 to 250,000 soldiers and 50,000 reservists. However, Kaczynski clarifies that increasing the number of soldiers would not mean reinstituting compulsory national service.
The legislation would also allow Poland’s armed forces to purchase military weapons and equipment, either from the US or elsewhere in the European Union.
Kaczynski believes that the bill presented to the media is what the military currently needs, considering the “imperial ambitions” of Russia and the hybrid warfare being waged by Belarus against Poland and other EU nations.
‘Preparing for War’
In his speech, Kaczynski asserted that Poland must have a serious deterrent force to defend itself without overdependence on allies, especially since the country lies on the eastern flank of the EU and NATO.
The strong deterrent force would be employed in the event of a conflict with Belarus, which Poland has accused of encouraging Middle Eastern and African migrants to seek entry to the EU through Poland.
“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,’” the official stressed, as quoted by the Associated Press.
Several Polish opposition lawmakers have expressed their opposition to the proposal, claiming that it comes from the ruling Law and Justice party, which has allegedly been weakening the military.
Civic Platform party lawmaker Cezary Tomczyk stated that the homeland bill does not “look good.” He also took a swipe at the party, which “purged the army of generals, colonels, and majors” and stopped the modernization of the Polish army.
The bill still needs the approval of the parliament and Polish President Andrzej Duda.