Poland Presents Bill to Strengthen Military as More Troops Enforce Border Crisis

Poland again sent thousands of troops to further strengthen its border defenses with neighboring Belarus as officials also presented plans on Tuesday for a bill to “defend the fatherland” which aims at building up the Polish military.

“We are increasing the number of soldiers helping the Border Guard by 2,500,” Mariusz Blaszczak wrote on Twitter. “Soon, about 10,000 soldiers from the 12th, 16th, and 18th divisions will be watching over the security of the border,” the country’s national defense minister added.

Meanwhile, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who holds the position of deputy prime minister in Poland, said on Oct. 26 that a deteriorating international situation has enacted the country’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to present a new bill.

The bill is aimed at replacing an existing one from 1967, Kaczynski said. It will back increasing the defense budget and the size of the army and introduce simpler recruitment rules but does not involve reinstating compulsory military service.

Kaczynski also said Poland hopes to strengthen its forces by buying U.S.-produced military equipment, but would also look at European-made weapons.

NTD Photo
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, speaks during the party’s campaign convention in Kielce, Poland, on Oct. 9, 2019. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)

The bill comes as the Polish government declared a state of emergency last month in several areas along the country’s border with Belarus and also announced plans to spend more than $400 million on improving its border defense by building a solid barrier.

Thousands of illegal immigrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, have tried to unlawfully enter the country from neighboring Belarus. The Polish Border Guard also said in a statement in August that illegal border crossings have reached record heights.

Polish authorities have repeatedly said the situation along the border is “in crisis” and blamed authoritarian Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko for sending the immigrants into Polish territory as a way to create instability in Europe.

Over the weekend, a group that included dozens of illegal immigrants tried to force their way through the Belarus-Polish border twice and while doing so, injured two soldiers, who both required treatment at a hospital, the border guard said. Troops have been pushing illegal immigrants back across the border to stem a rising surge, a move that has been criticized by some human rights officials.

“As a result of these events, two Polish soldiers were hospitalized, one of them was hit in the face with a stone, the other with a branch,” Polish Border Guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska said during a news conference. “These people are not in any danger, they have left the hospital.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.