**Poland plans paramilitary force of 35,000 to counter Russia
Poland says it will start recruiting in September for a new 35,000-strong paramilitary defence force because of tensions with Russia.
Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said top positions in the Territorial Defence Force had already been decided.
The force will have civilian volunteers trained in military skills. It is aimed at countering “hybrid” warfare of the kind that led parts of Ukraine to break away and pledge loyalty to Russia.
Nato also plans to reinforce Poland.**
One Nato battalion will be deployed to Poland and three more to the neighbouring Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The total troop deployment is expected to be about 4,000, on a rotating basis.
A Nato summit in Warsaw on 8-9 July will finalise the details of that deployment. Several of Nato’s 28 member states will send troops to beef up the alliance’s presence in the east, near the Russian border.
Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian Crimea peninsula in March 2014 and the insurgency by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine sent a chill through Nato members who used to be in the Soviet bloc.
Russia has also deployed Iskander-M nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, a territory sandwiched between Poland and the Baltic states.
In April, Mr Macierewicz said the new Territorial Defence Force was needed because Poland “is threatened by the actions of our neighbour Russia, which makes no secret of its aggressive intentions and which since 2008 has systematically been undertaking action aimed at destabilising the peaceful order in Europe”.
On Thursday he announced a September recruitment drive, at a conference of paramilitary organisations in Ostroda, northern Poland.