Poland is building up forces on the eastern flank and will increase the number of military personnel near the city of Suwalki by about three times, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said. What consequences may such step сarry to Belarus? What way will Russia respond to it?
The re-establishment of the Polish Army regiment was announced during a visit of the Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak to Suwalki, where the 14th division of anti-tank artillery is located. The regiment was reorganized into a division 8 years ago under the previous government. Now the re-establishment of the regiment will increase the total number of the unit servicemen by almost three times, up to about a thousand personnel.
“Minister Błaszczak earlier announced the formation of the 18th mechanized division in eastern Poland. The re-creation of this regiment is a logical continuation of the decisions that were made in early September. However, the creation of this unit will take place in stages, since now the very unit in Suwalki has obsolete weapons,” said Paweł Fleischer from the Institute for Forecasting and International Studies (Warsaw).
The Suwalki corridor is a strategically important place. First of all, it is mentioned in the context of a possible conflict between Russia and NATO — a small isthmus separates the Kaliningrad region from Belarus. It is here that the alleged aggression can begin — the breakthrough of the Russian troops with the aim of cutting off the Baltic countries from the rest of Europe.
“From a military point of view, a thousand, two thousand, three thousand personnel, concentrated in the Suwalki corridor, do not pose a particular threat to Russia. Given the small area of this corridor, any area target, be it a garrison, can be easily destroyed by long-range multiple launch rocket systems,” said Belarusian military expert Alyaksandr Alesin.
The Kaliningrad region has Russian weapons — from coastal ballistic missiles “Ball” and “Bastion” to anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 and operational tactical complexes “Iskander-M” capable of carrying a nuclear charge and hitting targets at a distance of up to 500 kilometers.
“From the Polish side, we are responding to this threat by the acquisition of the “Patriot” systems.” We just need to remember that Poland has a missile defense system, which dates back to the 1960-70s. Therefore, on the one hand, this is a response to the Russian threat, and on the other, the natural removal of old weapons and their replacement with new ones,” Paweł Fleischer said.
According to experts, building up of military capabilities is not only of practical but also of image-related importance for Poland: Warsaw seeks to secure the status of the organization’s eastern flank moderator and the main player in the Eastern European security.
“Russia can use this as a pretext, given that the economic situation is not very good, to channel the negative energy of citizens not to the internal field — against the government — but to the outside,” Alesin noted.
In turn, the Belarusian authorities are at risk once again to fall under pressure from the Russian allies, who, under the pretext of defense against the increased ‘NATO threat’, may demand the deployment of their contingent in the country on a permanent basis. Although this question is more political than it is military.
Zmitser Mitskevich, Belsat.