Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawieck on Monday said his country would increase its defense spending to 4% of Gross Domestic Product.
The decision, against the background of Russia's war in Ukraine, would see the country spending even more as a proportion of its economy than the United States.
What Warsaw has said
"The war in Ukraine makes us arm ourselves even faster. That is why, this year, we will make an unprecedented effort: 4% of GDP for the Polish army," Morawiecki told reporters.
Poland had already spent the equivalent of 2.4% of GDP for the military in 2022 — the third highest percentage among NATO alliance countries.
Morawieck said that raising defense spending to their new target "might mean that this will be the highest percentage... among all NATO countries."
Greece spent the largest proportion of its GDP on defense in 2022, at 3.76%, of any NATO ally. It was followed by the US with 3.47%, with Washington spending $822 billion dollars on defense in absolute terms — more than twice as much money on defense as all other states in the military alliance put together.
Under a current spending target, members of the NATO alliance are urged to reach the benchmark of spending at least 2% of GDP on defense by 2024.
According to diplomats at a recent NATO meeting, Poland, Lithuania, and Britain suggested that the target should be higher in view of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
Other European nations have also announced defense budget increases for their militaries in the past year.
Hundreds of US tanks for Poland
Poland has signed a string of arms deals to beef up its defensive capabilities in recent months.
Warsaw in January approved the purchase of 116 Abrams tanks from the United States which are due to arrive in Poland later this year in a $1.4-billion (€1.3-billion) deal.
Last year, it bought another 250 Abrams tanks that are expected to be delivered in late 2024.
Poland received the first shipment of tanks and howitzers that it bought from South Korea in December. Poland will initially buy 180 K2 "Black Panther" tanks built by Hyundai Rotem as part of the same deal. It will also eventually acquire more than 800 of the K2PL variant of the tank, production of which starts in Poland in 2026.
The country has also bought four dozen K9 howitzers, with the planned acquisition of another approximately 600 to begin in 2024 and domestic production expected to start in 2026.
As part of its cooperation with Seoul, Poland is also buying some 48 FA-50 light combat fighter jets. The planes are compatible with the US-made F-16 fighters that Poland's air force is equipped with and with the advanced F-35A fighters that it has also contracted from the US.
The country's army is expected to grow to 250,000 professional soldiers and 50,000 civil defense personnel in the next few years.
rc/dj (dpa, AFP)