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Work begins to deploy German air defence systems to Poland: defence minister

06.12.2022 21:00
Poland's defence minister announced on Tuesday that work was beginning "on arrangements to place" German Patriot air defence systems in Poland after Berlin refused to deploy "the launchers" to western Ukraine.
Mariusz Błaszczak
Mariusz BłaszczakJedynka/Wojciech Kusiński

"After talks with the German defence minister, I was disappointed to hear the decision to reject supporting Ukraine," Mariusz Błaszczak said on Tuesday, as quoted in a tweet by the Polish defence ministry.

He added that "deploying Patriots" to western Ukraine "would increase the safety of Poles and Ukrainians."

He announced: "We proceed to work on arrangements to place the launchers in Poland, implementing them into our command system."

Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said in late November that the Patriot air defence systems her country had offered Poland were intended for use "on NATO territory," despite a request from Warsaw that the system be sent to Ukraine.

"These Patriots are part of NATO's integrated air defence, meaning they are intended to be deployed on NATO territory," Lambrecht said in Berlin on November 24, as quoted by the Reuters news agency.

"Any use outside NATO territory would require prior discussions with NATO and the allies," she added.

Lambrecht was speaking after Poland's Błaszczak said he had asked Germany to send the Patriot missile launchers to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russian missile attacks.

Poland asks Germany to send Patriot batteries to Ukraine

"After further Russian missile attacks, I asked Germany to have the Patriot batteries offered to Poland transferred to Ukraine and deployed at its western border," Błaszczak wrote on Twitter on November 23.

"This will protect Ukraine from further deaths and blackouts and will increase security at our eastern border," he added.

Two days earlier, Błaszczak said that Warsaw and Berlin had agreed that additional Patriot air defence systems would be relocated to Poland from Germany and deployed near Poland's border with Ukraine.

Błaszczak at the time said in a tweet that he had spoken with Germany's Lambrecht and she "reaffirmed Germany's willingness to deploy Patriot missile launchers near the border with Ukraine."

Mariusz Błaszczak zapewnił, że prace nad tymczasową zaporą na granicy z obwodem kaliningradzkim ruszą jeszcze dziś Mariusz Błaszczak. Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

Błaszczak, who is also a deputy prime minister, announced earlier that day that Warsaw had accepted an offer from Berlin to send Patriot air defence systems to Poland after a stray missile incident in a Polish village near the Ukrainian border last week.

'We have offered Poland support in securing airspace'

Germany's Lambrecht told a newspaper on Sunday, November 20, that Berlin had offered Warsaw the Patriot missile defence system to help it to secure its airspace after a stray missile struck a village in southeastern Poland earlier last month, killing two people, according to reports.

The German government also offered Poland further help in air policing with German Eurofighters after the missile incident, which initially raised fears that Russia's war in Ukraine could spill across the border, Reuters reported at the time.

"We have offered Poland support in securing airspace - with our Eurofighters and with Patriot air defence systems," Lambrecht told the Rheinische Post newspaper on November 20, as quoted by Reuters.

Russia 'bears ultimate responsibility'

Poland's President Andrzej Duda said last month that the missile strike, which killed two people in a village in the southeast of his country, was "a tragic accident" that was caused by Russia's war in neighbouring Ukraine.

Two Polish citizens died when "a Russia-made missile" caused an explosion outside the southeastern Polish village of Przewodów, about 6 kilometres from the Ukrainian border, at around 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15, according to a statement by the Polish foreign ministry.

The explosion at a grain facility in Przewodów came as Russia fired dozens of missiles against cities across Ukraine in a new wave of attacks targeting critical energy infrastructure, according to officials.

“Nobody wanted to hurt anyone in Poland,” Duda said on Thursday, November 17, during a visit to the site of the blast.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said a day earlier that the deadly explosion in Poland near its border with Ukraine was the result of a Ukrainian air defense missile that landed in Poland, but added that Russia "bears ultimate responsibility" for the incident.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told parliament in Warsaw on Wednesday, November 16, that it could not be ruled out that the missile incident was the result of a "provocation" by Russia.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on November 16 that the missile was probably a stray fired by Ukraine's air defences and not a Russian strike, but added that Russia "bears ultimate responsibility" for the incident as it "continues its illegal war" against Ukraine.

Poland in March 2019 signed what officials described as a historic deal to buy Patriot air defence systems from the United States for USD 4.75 billion.

The Polish president and defence minister in October attended an event at a training ground in the northern city of Toruń to test the first battery of the country’s newly delivered Patriot air defence systems, news outlets reported at the time.


Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters