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A Polish soldier walks near tanks during preparations before National Army Day Parade at Wesola military base, in Warsaw, Poland, on August 10. Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Poland is set to hold its largest military parade in decades on Tuesday, in a flex of defensive muscle that comes as tensions rise on the border between the NATO nation and key Russian ally Belarus.

Poland’s Defense Ministry said the celebration of Polish Army Day on Tuesday would be marked by a showcase that includes 200 units of Polish and foreign military equipment, 92 aircraft and 2,000 service members.

The parade will include some of the latest technology Poland has in its arsenal, including US-made M1A1 Abrams tanks, South Korean K2 tanks and K9 self-propelled howitzers, HIMARS rocket launchers, Krab self-propelled howitzers, as well as US-made Patriot missile batteries systems, which are part of the Polish “WISŁA” air defense system.

Poland has emerged as one of Europe’s leading military powers in recent years after pouring billions into new equipment following Russia’s decision to annex the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014. Warsaw’s diplomatic clout has also grown in the wake of the instrumental role it has played in supporting Ukraine since Moscow’s full-scale invasion.

Last week, Poland announced the deployment of thousands of additional troops to its eastern border as concern mounts over the presence of Russian Wagner mercenary forces in Belarus.

Poland shares borders not just with Ukraine and Belarus, but also with Russia’s semi-exclave of Kaliningrad. By staging a massive showcase of power on Tuesday, Warsaw is sending a message Russia and Belarus are bound to understand, experts said.

“It’s sort of a Soviet thing to do. Russia does theirs on May 8, Belarusians have them, as does North Korea, Iran. It’s kind of reflecting back their language. The adversary states see these [parades] as a show of force, so Poland is going to meet it with a show of force,” Edward Arnold, a research fellow at the British security think tank RUSI, told CNN.

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Sumber: www.cnn.com

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