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10:02 AM, April 27, 2015
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Poland is looking to support armament efforts of eastern European countries through government, bank and export loans as a response to Russian military presence in Ukraine, DefenseNews reported Saturday.

"Poland aims to play the role of a regional leader, and rally other (Eastern European allies) behind the objective of intensifying regional cooperation in the field of defense and security", a political scientist from the University of Warsaw professor Marek Jablonowski was quoted as saying by the website.

The plan includes the Visegrad Group of countries (alliance of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) along with the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, in addition to Romania and Bulgaria, Col. Jacek Sonta spokesperson for the Polish Defense Ministry told local business daily Puls Biznesu. The fund also aims to increase the foothold of Polish defense firms in other Eastern European markets.

"To date, we have been looking for potential export deals in distant countries, while we have neglected neighboring markets. Financial support by the government will make it easier for Polish companies (to export weapons), but they surely shouldn't ignore local competitors," Slawomir Kulakowski, the head of the Polish Chamber of National Defense Manufacturers (PIPROK) was quoted as saying by the website.

In September, Lithuania's Defense Ministry signed a deal with Polish arms maker Mesko to acquire GROM short-range portable air defense systems.

"Short-range air defense systems are one of the priorities of the Lithuanian armament program. GROM will strengthen the capacity of the Lithuanian armed forces and ensure protection against combat aircraft," Lithuanian Brig. Gen. Gintautas Zenkevicius said.

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