WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland staged a military parade on Tuesday to showcase its state-of-the-art weapons and defense systems, as war rages across its southeastern border in neighboring Ukraine and ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 15.
Crowds gathered in scorching temperatures expected to reach 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) to see U.S.-made Abrams tanks, HIMARS mobile artillery systems and Patriot missile systems, as well as South Korean FA-50 fighter jets and K9 howitzers.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Poland’s right-wing government has spent more than $16 billion on tanks, missile interceptor systems and fighter jets, many purchased from the U.S. and South Korea.
Poland, a NATO member, supports Kyiv in its war against Russia.
The parade was held in Poland’s capital on the anniversary of the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, in which Polish troops defeated Bolshevik forces advancing on Europe.
The military upgrades have bolstered Poland’s defense capabilities and some items replaced Soviet- and Russian-made equipment that Poland gave to Ukraine.
Poland is building one of Europe’s strongest armies to beef up deterrence of potential aggressors and has increased its number of troops along its border with Russia’s key ally, Belarus.
Showing off its military might is also a way for Poland’s government to attract voter support ahead of the October elections, in which the populist ruling Law and Justice party will seek to win an unprecedented third term.
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