Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced on 13 February that Poland would sign a contract to purchase the US-made highly-mobile artillery rocket system HIMARS. According to Blaszczak, the purchase of these weapons will provide Poland with “security guarantees”. Sputnik discussed this with independent publicist Krzysztof Podgórski.
Sputnik: Would the purchase of 20 rocket systems really provide such a guarantee?
Krzysztof Podgórski: I think that the minister goes too far with that premise. Undoubtedly, this is a modern missile system, which gives the Polish army new opportunities in terms of range and precision.
Polish artillery does not have such launchers and such firepower. And this acquisition allows you to hit targets at a distance of more than two hundred kilometres. There are, however, detailed equipment issues, both with respect to relatively longer-range missiles and with artillery rockets.
Sputnik: The Council of the Federation Committee on Defence and Security noted that these missiles could only theoretically pose a danger to Russia. At the same time, this transaction may pose a threat to the buyer himself: after all, the military will certainly track their deployment and movement, especially those in the territory of the Kaliningrad region. How can you comment on this?
Krzysztof Podgórski: Undoubtedly, the HIMARS system is capable of allowing you to fire from a great distance. There will be a large enough area of the Kaliningrad region within the reach of these weapons.
Since their firing positions will be located at a distance of several kilometres or several dozen kilometres within the Polish territory, they will be able to hit targets at a distance of 120 kilometres into Russian territory.
These are the features that the HIMARS system provides. It is both offensive and defensive in nature. So, one should not try to predict only offensive scenarios. These means simply providing the Polish army with support for its units at a sufficiently long distance.
However, I suggest that you should not direct the imagination in a negative direction. After all, there is no tension in the relationship between the two countries from a military point of view. There are no misunderstandings between them about the borders. I think that neither sides should heat up the situation.
Sputnik: And this is not clearly an anti-Russian sentiment?
Krzysztof Podgórski: In comparison with the huge potential of the Russian army, these are only two divisional modules. We must look at things realistically.
n the Kaliningrad region, the Russian army has Iskander missiles and Smerch-type artillery missile systems. So, I do not think that the new weapon gives any strategic advantage to the Polish side, even relative to a separate contingent of Russian troops in Kaliningrad.