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26 Jun, 2022 09:12

Poland seeks NATO brigade group on its territory

The defense minister says security in the region requires “special attention”
Poland seeks NATO brigade group on its territory

Poland is seeking to further increase NATO’s presence on its territory, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has said. Warsaw wants a brigade group in addition to the troops already stationed there, he told Polska Times in an interview published on Saturday.

The security of NATO’s eastern flank has required “special attention for a long time,” Blaszczak, who is also Poland’s deputy prime minister, said. He also revealed that four new battalion groups are being formed to be sent to the region and potentially operate on territory stretching “from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.” However, the minister believes that an additional buildup is needed.

“I can confirm that we’re advocating for the deployment of a brigade group in Poland within NATO structures,” he said. He also praised the US, saying Poland has been hosting an increasing number of American troops for years and “maintaining this permanent presence is one of my priorities.”

According to Blaszczak, the US is “the leading state in the NATO battle group” in Poland, and is helping to develop “the command structures of Poland’s land forces” on the basis of bilateral agreements. Warsaw is the largest host of NATO troops on the bloc’s eastern flank, he added.

Poland does not plan to rely only on foreign troops for security, but wants to increase the number of its own Armed Forces to 300,000, according to the minister. According to a report by British think tank IISS, in 2021, Poland’s military included 114,050 active-duty personnel.

The nation also seeks to increase defense spending to 3% of GDP next year – up from 2.4% now, Blaszczak said. He also expressed hope that the ongoing conflict in Ukraine will result in other nations lifting their expenditure. 

Russia’s military operation in Ukraine has prompted calls from NATO members to drastically increase the bloc’s military presence on its eastern flank. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have demanded NATO divisions be sent to their countries to deter potential threats from Russia.

The region had already hosted around 5,000 multinational troops prior to Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February, but the three countries have asked for between 15,000 and 50,000 soldiers in total. In mid-June, Reuters reported, citing diplomats and senior officials from leading NATO nations, that the Baltic states would not receive the requested buildup.

The bloc is set for a major meeting in Madrid at the end of June, in which Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are expected to raise the issue again. Other NATO members reportedly favor a smaller presence and support providing additional intelligence assets to the Baltic states instead.