Gov’t spending cuts won’t affect defence: Polish deputy PM
A Polish deputy prime minister has said that possible cuts in government spending next year will not affect defence, adding that defence expenditure is necessary to facilitate the country’s development.
Mariusz Błaszczak.PAP/Tomasz Gzell
Mariusz Błaszczak made the declaration in an interview with public broadcaster Polish Radio on Thursday.
The deputy prime minister, who also serves as Poland’s defence minister, told Polish Radio that the government was strengthening the country’s armed forces, including through the creation of new units in eastern Poland, for instance in the northeastern town of Kolno.
Purchase of American weaponry
Błaszczak said: “Last week I spoke on the phone to my US counterpart, Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin. Next year, the first batch of Abrams tanks will arrive, and Polish soldiers are already being trained in the operation of these US-made tanks in Biedrusko near Poznań in western Poland. This demonstrates the openness of the US.”
He added that the government in Warsaw was in talks with the US administration to expedite the delivery of American weaponry, including HIMARS rocket systems and Apache attack helicopters.
“We are interested in a bridging solution whereby the Apaches would be swiftly made available to the Polish army,” Błaszczak told Polish Radio.
He revealed he was „in regular contact” with Austin „regarding defence issues and cooperation on security assistance to Ukraine.”
’Poland will continue to buy armaments for its military’
Błaszczak declared that “Poland will continue to buy armaments for its military,” while noting a series of recent major purchases, such as the US-made Patriot air defence systems, Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat drones and the K239 Chunmoo rocket artillery systems from South Korea.
“The first batch of K2 tanks and K9 gun howitzers from South Korea will arrive in Poland this year,” he said.
Błaszczak vowed that „potential savings in the 2023 budget” would „not affect defence spending or social policies.”
He told Polish Radio: “Budgetary changes won’t affect the defence sector because the defence sector is the basis for the growth of our country.”
He said: “Security is a basic requirement if Poland is to develop and there are threats around our country.”
Earlier this week, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced his government would limit some public expenditures to ensure the budget deficit does not exceed 4.5 percent of GDP in 2023, Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
Temporary barrier on border with Russia
Błaszczak also spoke to Polish Radio about the government’s decision to build a temporary barrier on Poland’s border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
He said that a similar fence built last year on the Polish-Belarusian border “helped prevent a situation that could have threatened the security of our nation.”
According to Błaszczak, a massive influx of migrants trying to cross illegally into Poland from Belarus at the time “was executed according to a plan devised in the Kremlin.”
He said: ”There was a plan to create a crisis in Poland so that our country wouldn’t be able to support Ukraine following the Kremlin’s invasion.”
Work on a temporary barrier along Poland’s 210-kilometre border with Russia began last week. The barrier will be 2.5 metres high and 3 metres deep, consisting of three barbed-tape fences, officials told reporters.