On this year’s Armed Forces Day, held every August 15, Poland’s government organised the biggest military parade since the Cold War in a show of strength designed to send a message to Russia and Belarus, as well as voters that the country’s defence is being taken seriously by the government.
According to the Polish Defence Ministry, more than 2,000 troops from Poland and other NATO members showed off more than 200 pieces of military hardware and 92 aircraft during the parade in the capital Warsaw, held to commemorate the anniversary of the 1920 victory over Soviet Russia at the Battle of Warsaw during the Polish-Soviet War.
Among the weapons on display were Abrams tanks that Poland bought from the US, K2 tanks produced by South Korea, K9 self-propelled howitzers, HIMARS rocket launchers and Patriot air defence systems. In the skies overhead flew F16 fighter jets produced in the US and FA50s from South Korea as well as military helicopters.
Many of these weapons and aircraft have been purchased since Russia launched its war in Ukraine, in a massive spending spree which the government says is designed to give the country “the most powerful land forces in Europe”.
The show of strength comes against a backdrop of recent provocations by Belarus and Russia, which included Wagner mercenaries conducting military exercises close to the border with Poland and Lithuania, as well as flying two Belarusian military helicopters into Polish airspace.
In response to those incidents, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Kaminski said earlier this month that an additional 10,000 troops would be sent to Poland’s eastern border to help secure it. A migration crisis being orchestrated by Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko on that border is still ongoing.
Across the country, 70 military picnics were organised on August 12-15 to demonstrate the strength of the Polish armed forces and to inform citizens about recruitment options. The Polish government had earlier announced it wants to double the size of the Polish army to 300,000 personnel.
Critics complain the governing Law and Justice Party (PiS) is using these events, the largest in years and paid for out of the country’s defence budget, for electioneering purposes.
On Monday, while attending a military picnic in Uniejow in central Poland, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski gave a speech in which he called the main opposition leader Donald Tusk “the personification of evil in Poland” and urged people to go out and vote for PiS at the general election on October 15.
Source : Balkan Insight