Poland’s tank and howitzer deal with South Korea in doubt

A worker stands next to South Korean K2 Black Panther tanks in in the Polish Navy port of Gdynia, Poland, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Polish Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz said in a new interview with Radio Zet that the South Korean offer of credit for the purchase of weapons for Poland “is not sufficiently attractive to us to be able to realize it.”

“The offer, which was partly presented by the Koreans for financing, is unacceptable. It is too weak, impossible to implement,” stated Kosiniak-Kamysz. “Not all situations related to the security and use of the ordered equipment were carried out by our predecessors. I’m talking about logistics, security, and various things. We will be changing this, which of course takes time.”

Kosiniak-Kamysz said that he wanted to continue the arms deal but wants to “draw conclusions and (uncover) mistakes made by predecessors.” He added that the Law and Justice (PiS) government was prepared to break off agreements when it felt them to be disadvantageous, recalling the decision to cancel the purchase of Caracal helicopters from France in 2016. 

This led former defense minister and current leader of the conservative PiS parliamentary caucus, Mariusz Błaszczak, to say on platform X that the minister has effectively indicated that he wants to break off talks on realizing the purchase of the K2 tanks and K9 howitzers. 

Mariusz Błaszczak criticized Kosiniak-Kamysz, saying that if there were doubts, the defense ministry should be negotiating with the Koreans rather than going to the media to complain; he also feared that the minister’s behavior meant that he was preparing the ground for altogether canceling the K2 tanks and K9 howitzers from Korea. 

The former defense minister added that “if this happens, then it will be an action endangering both national security and the Polish arms industry since the K2 and K9 were eventually to be produced in Poland.” 

Błaszczak said that back in December, he had said that Tusk’s government would look for ways to save money and that this was probably now coming to fruition. 

On Dec. 27, the new left-liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk said at a press conference that there was “a problem funding the arms deal with South Korea,” as Korean financing did not really exist. However, Tusk admitted that the advantage of the Korean deal was that the equipment was available immediately. Tusk added that a review of existing contracts would be carried out. 

According to military expert Jarosław Wolski, the government’s questioning of the Korean offer is puzzling, as it is similar to the offer the U.S. has made for the delivery of Abrams tanks. Wolski expressed concern that backing out of the Korean deal — bearing in mind that Poland has handed over post-Soviet equipment to Ukraine — would leave Poland in urgent need of modern tanks and howitzers. 

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