Polish PM flags wrinkle in multibillion-dollar arms buy from SKorea

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WARSAW, Poland — The new government of Prime Minister Donald Tusk has unearthed what he termed a “problem” with the loan Seoul was expected to give Poland for buying South Korean weapons worth billions of dollars.

The issue came up during a review of the preceding government’s defense acquisitions, Tusk said, as quoted by local news agency PAP.

At the same time, Tusk vowed to increase defense Poland’s defense spending and complete weapons purchases initiated by the previous Cabinet.

Tusk, who was sworn in on Dec. 13, said his government’s “intention is to maintain record spending on armament, and, of course, we very much care about spending this money efficiently.”

“I do not know who misled whom, whether it was [former National Defence Minister Mariusz] Błaszczak or whether the Koreans have pulled out,” Tusk said, according to PAP. “In the end, it turned out that there was a misunderstanding, but I don’t want to put the blame on anyone.”

Before being was ousted after Poland’s Oct. 15 parliamentary election, the government of the Law and Justice party had signed a number of deals to buy numerous weapons from South Korea. These include FA-50 light attack aircraft, K9 howitzers, K2 Black Panther tanks, and K239 Chunmoo multi-barreled missile launchers.

Błaszczak, the former defense minister, shot back on X, formerly Twitter, saying Tusk was “looking for savings,” accusing the new prime minister of “preparing soldiers and the public opinion for withdrawals from weapon contracts.”

In reaction to Błaszczak’s remarks, Deputy National Defence Minister Paweł Bejda attempted to downplay similar concerns, but also hinted at the government’s plan to have more weapons produced by Poland-based factories.

“We don’t want to make a revolution. We are looking at all sorts of contracts, we will talk about increasing the [weapon] production capacities in Poland, so that at least 50 percent of armament spending stays at Polish plants,” Bejda told local news site Money.pl.

In 2024, the Polish Ministry of National Defence is to have a record budget of about PLN 118.1 billion ($29.6 billion), or an estimated 3.1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Additional money for defense expenditure will be allocated from the country’s Armed Forces’ Support Fund.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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