Destinations Magazine

East European Defence: Flexing Its Muscles

By Stizzard
East European defence: Flexing its muscles

ON A bluff close to the River Vistula in Warsaw stands Poland’s military museum. A collection of tanks, aircraft and artillery pieces pays tribute to a history of martial valour marked by glory and the trauma of existential defeat. The fact that predatory neighbours twice crushed the life out of Poland, and that its allies had no means to help, has left ineradicable scars. Although firmly embedded in NATO since 1999 and a member of the EU for almost a decade, Poland does not believe in letting down its guard.Having weathered the past five years better than most—the economy has grown by a fifth since 2009—and imposed tight spending limits on most departments, the centre-right government of Donald Tusk, re-elected in 2011, has made modernising the armed forces a priority. This year’s defence budget of $ 9.5 billion has grown by 7% over 2012, bringing Poland close to the 2%-of-GDP target that all NATO members are supposed to meet, but very few do.The defence minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, has announced that $ 43 billion is earmarked for military procurement to replace outdated weaponry, much of which hails from the Soviet era, over the next ten years. The share of the…

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