Poland will allocate an additional 200 billion zlotys ($55 billion) on defense over the next 15 years to modernize its army amid signs of growing aggression from Russia, a deputy defense minister said to Reuters.
Russia’s Zapad military exercises next month in Belarus and western Russia, the largest in years, have raised concerns for their lack of transparency, with NATO worried the official number of troops participating might be understated.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Poland on Thursday and Friday to check on deployment of U.S. troops in the east of the country and to meet Polish, Romanian and Turkish government officials.
Poland, alarmed by what it sees as Russia’s assertiveness on NATO’s eastern flank, has lobbied hard for the stationing of NATO troops on its soil, especially since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“The government has approved a legislative amendment … which gives us nearly 200 billion zlotys over the next 15 years,” deputy defense minister Tomasz Szatkowski said, adding that this was in line with plans to raise defense spending gradually to reach 2.5 percent of gross domestic product.
“This is not a trivial amount,” he told Reuters in an interview.
The Polish government agreed in June to raise defense spending gradually from 2 pct to 2.5 percent of GDP. This means that annual spending would nearly double to about 80 billion zlotys by 2032.