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Poland’s previous defence plans 'would have spelled death' for people in country's east: retired general

19.09.2023 07:00
Poland’s previous defence plans, under which officials say the country was supposed to defend itself from an attack from the east "along the Vistula river," would have "spelled death" for people in the country's eastern regions, a former senior military commander has claimed, amid Russia's ongoing war in neighbouring Ukraine.
Gen. Roman Polko.
Gen. Roman Polko.Photo: prezydent.pl

Roman Polko, a retired general, made the assessment in a media interview, public broadcaster Polish Radio reported on its website. 

The former commander of Poland’s elite special-forces unit GROM (Thunder) said that the previous government in Warsaw, led by the centrist Civic Platform (PO) party, “dismantled army units and weakened the potential of the Polish army.”

Polko added: “This made it necessary to engage in manoeuvre defence. Poland wasn’t able to face Russia’s powerful forces and so planned to employ delay tactics and undermine the enemy’s potential before taking a defensive stand along the Vistula river.” 

He said in the interview: “The planners completely disregarded the fact that it would spell death for civilians living east of the Vistula, and a complete destruction of infrastructure in eastern Poland.”

Polko noted that Poland’s defence doctrine was also influenced by the policy of the NATO alliance at the time. 

He said: “NATO didn’t regard Russia as an enemy, and didn’t regard Russia as the biggest threat, which today is officially stated in NATO documents. And so there were no troops earmarked to defend NATO territory from the first day of potential aggression. Poland was expected to wait two to three months for support.”

'Poland is now prepared to defend itself starting at the border'

The former military commander argued in the interview that Poland's current conservative government, led by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, “strengthened the potential of the Polish army, both in terms of troop numbers and expanding the arsenal of weapons.”

Polko said on Sunday: “The current government is indeed creating substantial combat potential. Building Europe’s biggest land army, equipped with modern weapons, helps ensure security for Polish people, especially for residents in the east of the country.”

He added that instead of “leaving civilians without military support, Poland is now prepared to defend itself starting at the border.”

Earlier on Sunday, Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak stated in a video message that the ruling party would “defend every inch of Polish territory.” 

The video, posted on the party’s social media platforms, revealed the previous government’s defence plans, featuring "the plan to defend Poland along the Vistula," which Błaszczak described as “dangerous,” polskieradio.pl reported.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.

Tuesday is day 573 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: polskieradio.pl, PAP