Which city in Poland prospers from the transfer of

Which city in Poland prospers from the transfer of

The transit of American weapons reaching Ukraine has turned the Polish city of Rzeszów into a place of prosperity.

Armored as far as the eye can see, batteries of Patriot surface-to-air missiles aimed at the sky, military aircraft landing, unloading and taking off almost non-stop. On arrivals, foreign volunteers going to fight in Ukraine. Among them, a former American soldier picks up his luggage. This is what the airport in the northern area of ​​Rzeszów (the largest in south-eastern Poland) looks like now, which until recently had only a few flights a day. Russia’s war against Ukraine, however, turned it overnight into the main military logistics center for Western weapons destined for Ukraine, notes the British magazine The Economist.

At the start of the year, Rzeszów, an hour’s train ride from the Ukrainian border, was Poland’s 15th largest city with a population of under 200,000. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 refugees have arrived here and Rzeszów has reached the top 10 in size. And we are not only talking about Ukrainian refugees, but also American soldiers, diplomats, volunteers or foreign employees in HoReCa.

“But where are the refugee camps?”, recalls the city’s mayor, Konrad Fijołek, the question on the lips of many locals at the beginning of the war. You don’t see them because they don’t exist. Only very few Ukrainians stay in shelters, most of them are housed in the homes of local residents. Some rented their own houses. And when the war broke out, humanitarian aid began to flow to the border town. The solidarity and warmth of everyone surprised even the locals, bearing in mind that cross-border relations were haunted by the memories of atrocities during the Second World War – the massacre of Poles by Ukrainian nationalists, but also the cleansing of Ukrainians by Polish partisans. But all this was erased by the brutal invasion of Russia. “Ukrainians are now fighting for us,” says Mayor Fijołek.

potential

Located 100 kilometers from the Ukrainian border on the Wisłok River, Rzeszów has a well-preserved historic center and numerous universities, and in recent years has become an important regional tourist and investment center.

More than six million Ukrainians have fled their country since the start of the war, creating the biggest refugee crisis Europe has seen since the end of the two world wars.

Even though numerically Warsaw and Wrocław have received many more refugees, Rzeszów’s population growth rate since the outbreak of war is by far the highest, Reuters notes.

The local economy is thriving. The manufacturer of engines for US F-16 fighter jets, one of the many companies operating in Rzeszów, is now the region’s largest employer. An important pharmaceutical hub is also located here. Even so, it is not easy for Ukrainians to find good jobs. For example, Oksana Hluschko, who had a pharmacy in Kyiv before the war, now cleans a hotel on the outskirts of the city. She enrolled in Polish courses and plans to become a pharmacist here as well.

Many of the Ukrainian refugees who used Rzeszów as a transit point and then left for larger cities returned here. Ola Filaretova, ballerina from Dnipro, returned to Rzeszów with her two children after several weeks spent in various places in Poland. The children had already made friends here in Rzeszów, and they missed them. In addition, “they miss home, and the house is only 100 kilometers from the border”, says Ola Filaretova with tears in her eyes.

“Being so close, everything seems easier to bear.” After Rzeszów received more than half of the Ukrainian refugees who came to Poland (almost 1.1 million as of May), Mayor Fijołek speaks more and more often of the need to build new schools and residential buildings to absorb those who can no longer or do not want to return home to Ukraine, writes Reuters. “If we were to build a few thousand apartments, they would certainly be immediately occupied even by those who took refuge here temporarily, but probably a large part of them will stay permanently”, the mayor also stated, quoted by The Economist.

Military, weaponry and money

The US 82nd Airborne Division was deployed on the outskirts of Rzeszów, the small base being visited by President Joseph Biden at the end of March.

ANTI-AIRCRAFT. On July 11, a Ukrainian An-124 freighter delivered the NASAMS II system from Norway to Rzeszów. President Biden even promised at the NATO base in Rzeszów that the alliance would transfer two NASAMS systems to Ukraine. The air defense systems are manufactured in Norway and can be deployed in 15 minutes. There are three generations of NASAMS complexes. The armies of NATO countries use second-generation air defense systems. Along with Norway, only Qatar has NASAMS III complexes, for which it paid serious money. The NASAMS system can counter any type of aerial threat – be it drones, low-altitude missiles, airplanes or helicopters. BILLIONS. At the end of May, the US announced $4.6 billion in military aid to Ukraine, Britain £1.3 billion ($1.56 billion) and the EU £2 billion Of euro. US military assistance began as early as 2014, after the annexation of Crimea. According to the Stimson Centre, a think tank in Washington, the total value of US aid from 2014-2022 is $7.3 billion.