Poland to raise defence spending to 3 pct of GDP

Polish soldiers during an official ceremony in front of the Home Army monument in Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Poland will raise its defence spending from the NATO-recommended minimum level of 2 percent of GDP to 3 percent in reaction to the Russia-Ukraine war, the ruling party leader has said.

The Sejm (the lower house of parliament) started a debate on a new Homeland Defence Law on Thursday, but Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling United Right camp and promotor of the bill, said it already needed an amendment.

Mr Kaczyński said Poland would have to raise its defence spending from the NATO-recommended level of 2 percent of GDP to 3 percent from 2023.

In the original bill, the increases are incremental, from 2.3 percent in 2023 to 2.5 percent in 2024.

“Here we'll suggest an amendment, 3 percent for defense already next year, and later we'll increase it,” Kaczynski said.

He also said Poland will seek long-term loans and may issue bonds to finance arms purchases.

Homeland Defence Law provisions to be introduced sooner

Originally, the introduction of all the provisions of the Homeland Defence Law was planned to be spread across 36 months.

“This deadline needs to be shortened due to the current situation,” Mr Kaczyński said in the Sejm. “The entire operation must be carried out quicker than we thought.”

A few months ago, Kaczyński and the defence minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, said Poland was planning to increase the number of its regular troops to 250,000 from just over 100,000 today.

Russian invasion on Ukraine

Russia attacked Ukraine last Thursday, but the invasion appears not to be going to plan. The military operation, which the Kremlin likely wanted to be very swift, is now in its eighth day facing strong resistance from the Ukrainian army and territorial defence forces. Thousands have died in the conflict so far, including more than 500 civilians, according to the UN. Russia's apparent lack of immediate success has led to increased shelling of residential areas and civilian facilities.