Polish ‘Shield-East’ — Tusk’s border policy was initiated by previous conservative government, points out former defense minister

"During the greatest crisis on the border with Belarus, the current prime minister defended migrants instead of standing on the side of soldiers and officers," recalls Poland's former defense minister, Mariusz Błaszczak

Mariusz Blaszczak, as Poland's minister of defense, holds a press conference in Jarylowka, Poland, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced a “great project to build a safe border”, but as leader of the Conservatives (PiS) parliamentary caucus and former defense minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, observes, that policy was already in place thanks to the last PiS government.

Tusk took to the stage in Kraków during the 80th-anniversary ceremony commemorating the Battle of Monte Cassino to announce a program to strengthen the eastern border. “We have decided to invest PLN 10 billion (€2.35 billion) in our security, and above all in a safe eastern border. We have started this work so that the Polish border will be safe in times of peace and so that it will be an impassable border for the enemy in times of war,“ announced Tusk in Kraków.

The Polish prime minister has called this national defense and deterrence plan, “Shield-East,” adding that it would protect Poland “against attacks from the east and provide a deterrent.” The fortifications are to be built along a 400-kilometer stretch of the border with Belarus and Russia.

The former minister of defense, Mariusz Błaszczak, responded by saying that the project is actually a plan “that we developed and started implementing at the Ministry of Defense.”

“This package of activities is needed to strengthen security at the border, which is ensured primarily by the barrier built during the lifetime of the PiS government, and soldiers and officers were sent to that region during our term of office,” Błaszczak posted on X.

He accused Tusk of electioneering. “PR packaging of activities that increase security at the border is, of course, an element of Tusk’s election campaign,“ he wrote. “Since the attacks on PiS are not working, the government deliberately uses the army and soldiers to play politics, while not taking any independent action and not presenting any vision of development,” the head of the PiS parliamentary caucus added.

Błaszczak assessed Tusk as having “zero credibility.” 

“During the greatest crisis on the border with Belarus, the current prime minister defended migrants instead of standing on the side of soldiers and officers. We all remember the words about ‘poor people looking for their place on earth,’” Błaszczak recalled.

“Today, Tusk is using the situation on the border for short-term political interests. After the European elections, he will forget about the Shield-East, the Polish Army, and our soldiers. He has done so many times before,” concluded the former Polish defense minister.

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