WARSAW - Poland announced a sharp increase in defence spending on Monday, with the prime minister saying the country needed to arm itself “faster” in light of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The country’s defence budget will amount to four percent of gross domestic product this year, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters. The parliament approved last week a 2023 budget that included 97.4 billion zloty ($22.5 billion) for the military, or three percent of GDP, which has yet to be signed by the president. “The war in Ukraine makes us arm ourselves even faster. That is why this year we will make an unprecedented effort: four percent of GDP for the Polish army,” Morawiecki said. Poland had spent the equivalent of 2.4 percent of its GDP for the military in 2022, the third highest percentage among NATO countries, according to figures from the transatlantic alliance.
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NATO has a spending target of two percent of GDP for its members. Raising defence spending to four percent “might mean that this will be the highest percentage... among all NATO countries,” Morawiecki said, without elaborating on how this would be financed. Other European nations have also announced increases in the budgets for their armies since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year. Poland, which is also a member of the European Union, has signed a batch of arm deals to boost its defence capabilities in recent months. Earlier in January, the government approved the purchase of 116 Abrams tanks from the United States which are due to arrive in Poland later this year in a deal worth $1.4-billion (1.3-billion-euro). Last year, Warsaw bought another 250 Abrams tanks that are expected to be delivered in late 2024.
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In December, Poland received the first shipment of tanks and howitzers that it bought from South Korea. As part of the deal, Poland is to initially buy 180 K2 “Black Panther” tanks built by Hyundai Rotem before eventually acquiring more than 800 of a special variant to be called K2PL, production of which is start in Poland in 2026. It also bought 48 K9 howitzers, with a planned purchase of another approximately 600 to begin in 2024, with domestic production slated to start in 2026.