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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: April 6, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Poland Is Funding Volunteer Paramilitary Defense Groups To Counter Possible Russian Aggression
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For the first time, the Polish Defense Ministry has recognized a group of volunteer paramilitary organizations and has signaled that these groups could be called up in time of war. Reuters reports:

There are an estimated 120 such groups in Poland, with total membership around 10,000. Eight hundred members gathered on Friday in Warsaw at a meeting organized by the Defense Ministry, the first time they have been given official recognition.

Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told them his ministry would pay the wages of 2,500 people who would form the backbone of local volunteer units to be mobilized in the event of a war.

The Polish president's chief security adviser, General Stanislaw Koziej, said the new approach had been prompted by the conflict in neighboring Ukraine, where Russia is accused of fighting alongside pro-Moscow separatists.

"Until recently, paramilitary organizations treated defense as a pastime," he said. "Today, as we face a war across our border, they realize that this pastime could contribute to the country's security."

Enrollment in such groups has been expanding as Russia is increasingly aggressive, but Reuters adds that Poland, a NATO member, is not seeing enough support from its allies, which is one reason that paramilitary organizations are getting larger and the Polish government is turning to them:

Poland is a member of NATO, but the defense alliance rejected requests from Warsaw to establish a substantial permanent presence on Polish soil. That has shaken Poles' faith in NATO's resolve, officials in Warsaw say.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has been one of the world leaders who has been trying to raise alarm, especially inside NATO, that a more robust deterrent to Russian aggression is needed. A statement published March 18 on the presidential website highlights the shift in NATO's thinking on its relationship to Russia:

Komorowski said that the main conclusion stemming from the Wednesday RBN sitting was that Poland needed to upgrade its defence abilities. In Komorowski's opinion Russia's current strategy signified a "strategic turnabout" in its relations with the West, which called for the western world to "strengthen its unity and defence potential".

The president noted that Russia's current stance was "openly confrontational" towards the West, which demanded "far-reaching conclusions. In this context he stressed the importance of executing decisions regarding the reinforcement of NATO's eastern flank made at the Alliance's recent Newport summit.

Bronislaw Komorowski also remarked that changes in NATO's basic strategic conception would be a fitting response to Russia's current doctrine. He also voiced concern about Russia's announcement that it gave itself the right to intervene in neighbouring countries whose policies ran against Russian interests.

"This is a new and disturbing line of thought", Bronislaw Komorowski observed, adding that this policy was especially visible in Russian activities in Ukraine. (PAP)

-- James Miller