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President Andrzej Duda on Poland’s defense, reparations and F-16 fighters for Ukraine

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In an interview with Le Figaro, President Andrzej Duda stated that Poland was expanding its defensive capabilities and announced that in 2023 it would spend over four percent of its GDP on defence. This is twice the level expected from NATO allies. In an interview with the BBC, he referred to the issue of handing over F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. He admitted that it would be a “very serious decision” that would have to be taken jointly by allies.

On Saturday, the BBC released a fragment of the interview, which Andrzej Duda gave in Warsaw in connection with next week’s visit to Great Britain. In it, he explained that sending F-16 jets through Poland would be a “serious problem” because “we don’t have enough of them … and we would need many more.” The president said that there are less than 50 aircraft of this type in the Polish air force.

F-16 for Ukraine? Andrzej Duda explains what this would entail

Andrzej Duda added that combat aircraft such as the F-16 have “very serious maintenance needs”, so “it is not enough to just send a few planes”.

F-16 fightersMarcin Konwicki / Shutterstock

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The Polish president stressed that any decision to deliver the jets must be a “joint decision” by Ukraine’s allies, and not one that can be taken by any single country. He also stressed that “weapons must be delivered to Ukraine all the time.”

President Duda’s full interview with the BBC will be broadcast on Sunday.

Duda: Poland will allocate more than 4 percent of GDP to defense

The content of the president’s conversation with “Le Figaro” was published on Saturday evening on his office’s website. Andrzej Duda was asked in an interview, among others, about Poland’s strategic relationship with the United States. When asked if this is a guarantee of security for him, the president remarked that “we have done everything to join NATO, precisely in order to receive a guarantee from Article 5 of the Treaty.”

– It’s not just words. Today, with NATO’s enhanced presence on the eastern flank, nearly 10,000 US troops are present on our soil. Poland is expanding its defensive capabilities. We purchase armaments. In 2023, we will spend over 4 percent of GDP on defence. This is twice the level expected of NATO allies. Today we are building common security, one for all, all for one, stressed the president.

Polish and American soldiers during the DEFENDER Europe 20 Plus exercise at the training ground near Drawsko PomorskieCapt. Blazej Łukaszewski/12 BZ

Duda: Russia’s attack on Poland would be Russia’s attack on NATO

When asked if he imagined a possible Russian attack on Poland, he pointed out that “it would be an attack by Russia on NATO.” – When in 2001 United States became the object of attack, all allies sided with the Americans and fought against the terrorists. We believe that if there were an attack on country belonging to NATOwhatever it was, the answer would be the same: quick and decisive, stressed the president.

Andrzej Duda stressed that Ukraine must urgently receive help. When asked if the Russians can win war in Ukraine, the president replied that “yes, they can, if Ukraine does not receive help very urgently.” – They don’t have modern military infrastructure, but they do have people. If we don’t send military equipment to Ukraine in the coming weeks, Putin may win. He can win and we don’t know where he will stop,” he said.

President Andrzej DudaPAP/Andrzej Lange

He also said that he was very proud of the Poles, of the help they offered to Ukrainian refugees who were fleeing the bombs. As he pointed out, “Poles have not forgotten what the Russian occupation is, what the Russian invasion is and how the Russian army behaves.” “His arrival means death, brutality, merciless struggle,” he said.

President: Central Europe has been warning against Vladimir Putin for years

When asked whether his assessment of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and his excellent relations with the president of Ukraine, and with the leaders of the Baltic states and other Eastern European countries, help to revive the Three Seas regionAndrzej Duda replied that “indeed, Central Europe has been warning against Vladimir Putin for years.”

– In 2008, when Russia attacked Georgia, Polish President Lech Kaczyński, together with the leaders of Ukraine and the Baltic states, went to Tbilisi, where at the decisive moment, in front of a crowd of Georgians gathered in the city center, President Kaczyński said the memorable words that if Russia does not stop “Today Georgia, tomorrow perhaps the Baltic states, Ukraine, and later perhaps my country, Poland,” Duda recalled.

The president noted that the countries of Eastern Europe showed solidarity in their stance towards Moscow. “We are together, but we are also in NATO,” he stressed. – What is very important, our territory is a strategic area leading towards the Baltic States through the Suwałki Corridor. If the Suwałki Corridor, 65 kilometers of the Polish-Lithuanian border between Belarus and the Russian Kaliningrad region, is not defended, the Baltic states will be cut off from the rest of NATO countries. We take it very seriously, both we and our Baltic partners, he stressed.

Duda about war reparations from Germany

During the conversation, a question was asked whether it was necessary for Poland to raise the issue of German war reparations after the destruction of World War II. – The truth is that the Germans did nothing to pay the reparations after the Second World War. The entire Polish society agrees on reparations, said Andrzej Duda. – There is no family in Poland whose member has not been killed by the Germans. There is no place that has not suffered, he added.

– We rebuilt Poland after the war with our own forces. Other countries, such as Greece, still want reparations. Why should the Polish state, which was the greatest victim of the war, lose 6 million of its citizens, have a completely destroyed capital, the state with the greatest losses and the greatest destruction, should receive nothing? asked the president.

Main photo source: PAP/Andrzej Lange

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