Poland and Lithuanian Army Chiefs: we have little time, maybe only 2 years

Polish and Lithuania flags. DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

On November 4, the visiting Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, Rajmund T. Andrzejczak and the Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Valdemaras Rupšys, discussed issues of military cooperation, unscheduled exercises and the fact that the two countries do not have a lot of time to modernise the armed forces, buy weapons and learn how to interact with allies. The military chiefs said that even a defeated Russia would be dangerous, and we had only a couple of years to prepare properly for defence, Jūratė Važauskaitė writing at tv3.lt news portal.

On Friday, the Chiefs of Defence of Lithuania and Poland agreed to exchange intelligence information and conduct surprise exercises. According to Mr Rupšys, the signed cooperation plan sets out the priorities and main areas of cooperation. 

“The agreement provides clear guidelines for the exchange of intelligence in all dimensions. We have been doing this for many years, and this cooperation is of particular importance to us, Lithuania, because the Polish Armed Forces provide us with comprehensive assistance in providing intelligence information,” the Lithuanian Armed Forces Commander told a joint press conference in Vilnius on Friday.

“The document also talks about exercises. It provides for the possibility of unexpected exercises. We will test the forces’ readiness and ensure the territory’s unity and integrity. This is one of the deterrent measures”, he said.

Time is the most important thing

Speaking about the modernisation of the Lithuanian and Polish Armed Forces and their readiness to defend or deter the enemy, Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces V. Rupšys stressed that we should always keep an eye on the threats and also model the future and try to predict threats.

“We have to model our capabilities and plans to be able to deter and prepare for armed defence. Today we agreed with the Polish Chief of Defence that reaction time is critical, as is preparation time.

We believe in Ukraine’s victory and will do everything we can to ensure it happens. However, whatever the outcome, Russia will be able to rebuild its capabilities and continue to threaten, so there is no time to wait and delay. Therefore, we need to hurry and understand that we must be in a position to have the highest quality armed forces within our resources and capabilities, capable of fighting and coordinating with our allies,” said Rupšys.

Rupšys discussed technical matters with his Polish counterpart and where to give priority.

“I shared my opinion on how we will further develop our forces, focusing on manoeuvre and firepower. <…> We should also think about attacks, and counter-attacks, not to mention air defence and engineering. Here are the details. Time is a key factor, and we have to outrun a potential adversary”, he said.

The Polish Chief of Defence Staff pointed out that spending big money on defence is good, but it has to be spent wisely and deliberately. He said the Poles were looking to increase their army’s size to 300,000. They are also rushing to modernise, equip and make it more effective.

This requires not only new weapons, which are not easy to buy but also communication with allies and synchronisation with neighbours. It also needs air defence systems, which, as the Ukraine case has shown, is critical.

“We are investing in modern weapons and in building a modern army, and we want to adjust the army to the situation. <…> We do not have time. It is a matter of months or a couple of years”, explained the Polish army chief, referring to the urgent need to modernise the army and update the arsenal of weapons. 

 A balance is needed between supplying arms to Ukraine and the country’s security

Poland is also striving to strike a balance between providing military support to Ukraine, which is defending itself against Russian aggression, and ensuring its own national security needs, the Polish Chief of Defence said. 

This is also an international responsibility, he stressed.

“Balancing the provision of equipment to Ukraine while maintaining the ability of its army to fight is an international responsibility, the biggest dilemma. It is not only a question of the attitude of the army. It is also a question of the country’s attitude toward the people. What do we do? We are trying to strategically predict how much armaments will be sufficient for the Ukrainian army and how much would be too much from the perspective of ensuring our national security,” said Andrzejczak.

He said that Poland and Lithuania are leading the way in the region in terms of support to Ukraine and that other countries should be asked how much they are investing in defence and how much support they are giving to a country that is defending itself because the outcome of the war in Ukraine will determine the security of Europe and the world for decades.

“I think that what we are doing, Poland and Lithuania, in terms of the share of GDP in defence, our posture, is a motivating example. There are more countries in the region, and we are asking, we are motivating, we are persuading, we are explaining that the war in Ukraine is not a war of one country against another. Ukraine has been a European security issue for several decades, a global issue because it is a big country”, said the Polish army chief

During his two-day visit, the Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, General R.T. Andrzejczak, met with the Commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, V. Rupšys, and representatives of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, and laid wreaths at the graves of the freedom fighters and the Polish servicemen in the Antakalnis Cemetery.

The Polish delegation will also visit the Šiauliai Air Force Base, where they will meet with Polish soldiers currently deployed in Lithuania on an air policing mission. The main objective of General Andrzejczak’s visit is to strengthen military cooperation between Poland and Lithuania.

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