Candidates for new volunteer force start training

Blaszczak added that without soldiers with high morale, even the best technically equipped army would not be able to defend the homeland. Tomasz Waszczuk/PAP

Mariusz Blaszczak, the Polish defence minister, inaugurated the first training session of a new volunteer force, comprised of people who have signed up for basic military service, set up in response to Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

In March, Poland adopted a new law on homeland defence, which introduced a one-year-long military service on a voluntary basis. The defence ministry started the recruitment for the service in late May, with military picnics and 70 recruitment offices in cities and towns around the country.

At a ceremony in Wegorzewo, north-eastern Poland, on Monday Blaszczak said the best response to the threats is to strengthen the Polish military.

"We want the Polish army to be strong, and for that to happen, it must also be numerous, hence our plans to have a 300,000-strong Polish army, the plans that we consistently implement," he said.

Blaszczak added that without soldiers with high morale, even the best technically equipped army would not be able to defend the homeland.

Poland suspended mandatory conscription in 2010 in order to professionalise its armed forces.

According to the government, Poland now has about 111,500 professional troops and 32,000 territorial defence soldiers.

Those who want to join the military have three options now. They can become professional soldiers, decide to do basic military service or join the territorial defence force.