In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Polish authorities announced in late 2022 that it intended to almost double the size of its army and launched into the large-scale process of equipping its forces with modern weaponry

This would include increasing the number of divisions to six, one of which, the “1st Legions Infantry Division,” would be deployed to strengthen its eastern flank close to the border with Belarus.

Blaszczak signaled Poland’s intent to expand and modernize its defense forces in an interview with the Polish news outlet Defense 24 in July last year when he said: “The criminal assault carried out by the Russian Federation, targeting Ukraine, and the unpredictable nature of Putin means that we need to accelerate the equipment modernization even further.”

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Formation of the new Division began in September 2022, and will eventually consist of 12 military units with a total strength of more than 30,000 troops made up of 4 combined arms brigades, 1 artillery brigade, 4 military regiments and 3 specialized battalions.

The new Polish formation

This tank battalion is stationed in Czartajew, in Poland’s Siemiatycze region, less than 40 kilometers from the border with Belarus. It will be equipped with K2 Black Panther tanks purchased from South Korea, while other units of the new division will be equipped with more K2 tanks as well as US-made Abram tanks and South Korean K9 155mm howitzers, along with other modern equipment.

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For the second time in a year the Russian Defense Minister visited a tank factory in Omsk to monitor its performance against the production plan he gave them last June.

As part of a total package valued at over $25 billion, Poland has also purchased Patriot air-defense systems, HIMARS multi-barreled rocket launchers, Apache attack helicopters, ground attack missiles and South Korean FA-50 light attack aircraft.

In his statement at the dedication of the battalion, Blaszczak doubled down on the threat posed by Russia and Belarus that he had outlined in July 2022 by saying:

“We are aware of the threats. We know very well that the Kremlin rulers started the war [in Ukraine] to restore the Russian Empire. This has always been a threat to the nations living in the neighborhood.

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“We are now forming new military units, recruiting young volunteers, while in 2015 we were closing military units in the east of our country,” he added.

“Therefore, we are strengthening the Polish army and building new military units to prevent an attack on our homeland. This tank battalion here in the Siemiatycze district will be equipped with K2 tanks. These are modern vehicles developed in the 21st century.”

Russia and Belarus concerns

Unsurprisingly the Belarus president responded to Poland’s announcement that expanding its armed forces “would be a gross violation of the final act of negotiations on the number of personnel of conventional armed forces in Europe [CFE], which Poland signed as a party to the Treaty.” However, this became academic when Poland along with all other NATO members announced on Nov. 7 that they were suspending participation in the treaty following Russia’s announcement that it was fully withdrawing.

The deployment of the new tank battalion elicited a response from Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin press secretary, who categorized it as “another step towards escalating tension.”

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Asked how he assessed this move would affect the security risk to Belarus, as part of the so-called “Union State,” Peskov replied: “In this case, our Belarusian friends know what to do. And in general, they are doing everything that is necessary to ensure security.”

K2 Black Panther Main Battle Tank

The K2 Black Panther is a thoroughly modern, state-of-the-art main battle tank (MBT) produced in line with the specific design requests of the Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) by Hyundai-Rotem. It entered service in 2014.

K2 Black Panther MBT live firing. Photo: ROKA open source

It features enhanced mobility, protection and fire power and is regarded as one of the best main battle tanks in the world.

The main armament of the K2 Black Panther is an automatic-loaded 120mm smoothbore gun which can load and fire 10 rounds per minute both from static positions or on the move. It is equipped with auto target detection and tracking systems with an electric gun and turret driving system. Both the gunner and commander’s sights use a thermal imager and laser rangefinder, enabling day/night observation.

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The navigation system consists of a global positioning system and an inertial navigation system and has a comprehensive battlefield management system that enables connection to other tanks and commanders within the unit.

Protection is provided by a combination of composite and explosive reactive armor, collective nuclear, biological and chemical protection, as well as soft and hard kill systems designed to defeat anti-tank rocket and missile attack.

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Comments ( 1)

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Imokru2
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Oh, all of a sudden Russia is concerned about Poland?
Consider Russia’s history as a cruel vindictive and boorish nation. Is there another behaviour that Russia would expect from Poland other than to protect its border?

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