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2nd Mar 2024

Poland shows off US weapons in pre-election parade

  • Warsaw: Polish military parade to be largest of its kind in decades (Photo: mon.gov.pl)
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Poland is to show off its Western defence equipment in a massive military parade, as its ruling party gears up for re-election.

The Polish Army Day celebrations on Tuesday (15 August) in Warsaw are to be the largest in decades, with 2,000 soldiers, 92 aircraft, and 200 mechanised units.

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These include US-made M1A1 Abrams tanks, Himars rocket launchers, and Patriot anti-missile systems, as well as South Korean K2 tanks and K9 self-propelled howitzers, the Polish defence ministry said.

"With a deep sense of prudence and solidarity, it is necessary today to speak of a common commitment to responsibility for the security of our country," Polish armed forces chief Rajmund Andrzejczak said in a short declaration on Tuesday.

"Only then will we be able to realise our goals if together we strive to uphold this universal, fundamental value," he added.

Poland is currently spending four percent of its GDP on defence — the most of any Nato member, including the US, in proportional terms.

It is also leading Nato efforts to supply the Ukrainian military via cross-border special operations, offsetting its negative image in the EU, due to the government's abuse of the rule of law at home.

And its bright and shining army is a potential vote winner for the incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is playing up Russia and Belarus security fears ahead of elections on 15 October.

"This parade will be different from the previous ones: We will be able to see how the process of modernising the equipment of the Polish army is progressing," Polish defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak also said on Sunday.

Blaszczak, last week, announced he was sending 10,000 troops to defend the border with Belarus in what was widely seen as a pre-election stunt.

And the PiS chairman, Jarosław Kaczyński, claimed that the EU, led by Germany, wanted to ban Polish people from foraging for mushrooms, playing to his eurosceptic base.

Meanwhile, Poland is also planning to hold a referendum on 15 October, including on the hot-button issue of migration.

The EU is seeking to reform the way it currently handles asylum seekers, with frontline states such as Italy or Greece forced to bear most of the burden alone.

But PiS' referendum questions left little doubt how the nationalist-populist party, which is nosing ahead in pre-election polls, wants the plebiscite to go.

"Do you support the admission of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, in accordance with the forced relocation mechanism imposed by European bureaucracy?", the referendum's main question is to ask.

"Do you support the removal of the barrier on the border of the Republic of Poland with the Republic of Belarus?", a second question asks, referring to an 186-km long metal wall built by PiS to keep out migrants.

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