21:08 GMT04 December 2020
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    A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the state-run Polish defense company PGZ and the French military shipbuilder DCNS; the document stipulates the two working together on building submarines in Poland.

    This week saw the inking of a memorandum of understanding between Poland's state-run defense company PGZ and the French military shipbuilder DCNS; the document outlines plans for the two to cooperate together on the construction of submarines at Poland's Baltic shipyards.

    The memorandum came more than three months after Warsaw cancelled a preliminary $3.4 billion deal with Paris on the purchase of 50 French Airbus H225M Caracal Helicopters.

    Last week, Warsaw announced plans to allocate a whopping 61 billion zlotys ($15 billion) for the acquisition of military hardware, including three submarines, air defense systems, helicopters and probably a "considerable number" of F-16 multirole warplanes. For comparison's sake, neighboring Lithuania's entire budget for 2017 totals €12.63 bln, according to Reuters, of which €723.5 mln is earmarked for defense. 

    This picture taken on February 24, 2016, shows a French Caracal helicopter prior to an air-to-air refuelling exercise in Cazaux
    © AFP 2020 / GEORGES GOBET
    This picture taken on February 24, 2016, shows a French Caracal helicopter prior to an air-to-air refuelling exercise in Cazaux

    Commenting on the PGZ-DCNS agreement, French military expert Christian Vallar told Sputnik France that first of all, the document indicates an improvement in relations between Paris and Warsaw.

    "No doubt, one can already talk about better bilateral relations," Vallar said, referring to last year's cancellation of the contract for the supply of Caracal helicopters and problems pertaining to DCNS selling its three Scorpene-class submarines.

    Asked about whether Poland may again reemerge as a European military power given the country's plans to spend $15 billion on military equipment, Vallar pointed to Warsaw remaining committed to NATO.

    "Of course, this is a hefty sum. Moreover, Poland is one of the few countries which allocate 2% of its GDP for the defense budget, something which is in line with purposes set by NATO. That's a lot in comparison with other European countries, but not in relation to the objective established by NATO," Vallar said.

    He did not rule out that the PGZ-DCNS agreement can be seen as something that may add to NATO's clout.

    "We can see two aspects concerning this agreement. The first aspect pertains to France just selling its military hardware, while the other aspect is related to strengthening NATO's position [in Europe and beyond]," he pointed out.

    Meanwhile, the Polish Defense Ministry reported last week that almost 1,000 United States soldiers and the first shipment of equipment for the American tank brigade have arrived in Poland. The extra military presence is part of the Atlantic Resolve operation launched by the US military in April 2014.

    The newly-arrived personnel are expected to take part in joint military exercises with their European allies.

    The incoming tank brigade is comprised of approximately 3,500 service personnel, 87 tanks, 18 self-propelled Paladin howitzers, 144 Bradley fighting vehicles and over 400 Humvees.

    In July 2016, NATO held a summit in Warsaw, where defense ministers finalized arrangements to deploy multinational NATO battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, totaling around 4,000 troops.

    The summit also confirmed the deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems and radars in Romania and Poland and confirmed that the United States would deploy 1,000 troops in Poland.

    Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was concerned with "NATO's course on deterring Russia, which undermines European strategic stability."

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