NATO members Poland, Slovakia to increase defense spending

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland will significantly raise defense spending to at least 3% of its annual economic output next year and Slovakia is also investing heavily in its armed forces, the two NATO members’ prime ministers said Wednesday.

Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki and Slovakia’s Eduard Heger attended a multinational military exercise in Poland and said their Central European countries are boosting their deterrence power and military cooperation amid the war in neighboring Ukraine.

Poland’s Morawiecki said that next year his government will spend more than 100 billion zlotys ($21.4 billion) “or maybe even 130 billion zlotys ($27.8 billion)” on modernizing the armed forces.

He said that would amount to between 3% and 4% of Poland’s GDP — one of the highest defense budgets among NATO’s 30 members. Poland currently spends just over 2% of GDP on its military.

“The best strategy is to deter the opponent with the power of one’s own army and through cooperation with others,” Morawiecki said.

Slovakia’s Heger said his government was “intensively modernizing the armed forces,” adding that Russia’s attack on Ukraine showed the necessity of regional defense cooperation.

Morawiecki and Heger watched maneuvers of almost 2,000 Polish, Slovakian, Czech, Hungarian, U.S. and British troops. The PUMA-22 exercise was held at a firing range in Nowa Deba, in south-eastern Poland, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the border with Ukraine.

“We want to create peace and we want to show that we have adequate force to protect peace,” Heger said.

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