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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland ready to tackle 'provocations' as Russia-led drills start: defence minister

10.09.2021 20:00
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak on Friday said Poland was working closely with its NATO allies to deter potential provocations during the Russian-led Zapad-2021 military exercises.
Mariusz Błaszczak speaks at a press conference during the Polish Armys Ryś-21 exercises at a training site in Nowa Dęba, southeastern Poland, on Friday.
Mariusz Błaszczak speaks at a press conference during the Polish Army’s Ryś-21 exercises at a training site in Nowa Dęba, southeastern Poland, on Friday.Photo: PAP/Darek Delmanowicz

The seven-day Russian-Belarusian war games, which kicked off on Friday, "are specifically oriented in the western strategic direction," Błaszczak told the polskatimes.pl website.

"And so the Polish Army must be ready for any type of action," he said, adding that Poland was beefing up its eastern frontier as well as developing defence and deterrence measures.

'If you want peace, prepare for war'

"If you want peace, prepare for war," he also said.

Błaszczak told polskatimes.pl that the Russian-Belarusian drills were partly designed to test "how and in what time frame we are able to respond."

He asserted that the large-scale exercise offered ample opportunity for Moscow and Minsk "to engage in various forms of hybrid action."

This could mean "disinformation, provocations, border incidents or increased migrant pressure on Poland, Lithuania and Latvia," Błaszczak said.

He declared that Poland was "ready to tackle these threats through deterrence."

'We remain in close coordination with NATO allies'

"We remain in close coordination with NATO allies," Błaszczak also said, "and the response of Poland and NATO will depend on how the situation on our frontier unfolds."

While attending Polish Army drills in the southeast of the country on Friday, Błaszczak said the national armed forces were being "continually extended" and capable of "making the country secure as part of the North Atlantic Alliance."

The Zapad-2021 military exercise is thought to be the biggest in Europe in the past 40 years, featuring up to 200,000 soldiers, 290 tanks and 15 ships, as well as 80 aircraft and helicopters, Polish Radio's IAR news agency reported.

In addition to Russian and Belarusian troops, units from Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia have been invited to take part, according to Poland's PAP news agency.

Some of the training is expected to take place just 3 kilometres from the Polish border.

NATO and the European Commission have called on Moscow and Minsk to maintain transparency and comply with international obligations amid the drills.

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAPpolskatimes.pl