The Polish government is still yet to finalise the German offer of the free air defence system Patriot. Opposition parties accuse the government of acting against the national interest. The government says it just wants to best utilise these weapons, in the best interest of Poland and Ukraine
Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak was at first excited to accept the offer from Germany, which wanted to give Poland free patriot rockets. However, he changed his mind after the intervention of the leader of the ruling PiS party, Jarosław Kaczyński.
Now the official stance of the Polish government, and the party, is that these should be given to Ukraine and deployed east of the Polish border to better protect Polish territory.
Germany says this is impossible, as they can’t send their weapons into the conflict zone, in order to avoid further escalation of the war.
German Ambassador to Poland said in an interview with Polish news channel TVN24: “We know that there is a need, but there is no possibility for us to send Patriot batteries, which are operated by German soldiers, to Ukraine now.”
“It is impossible to send soldiers of a NATO country to Ukraine. We are not part of this war, (…) we have a clear NATO policy that NATO soldiers will not be sent there.” said Thomas Bagger.
Meanwhile, the Polish government insists that these should be deployed on Ukrainian territory, as this would offer the best protection of the Polish border, giving it a chance to intercept potential threats much sooner, than if it was on Polish soil, given that the threats are much most likely to come from the East.
Minister Błaszczak said: – The deployment of German Patriots in Ukraine is beneficial for the security of the eastern part of our country
– The tragic event of November 15 took place just a few kilometers from the border, so this rocket flew through Polish territory in a few seconds. This is not enough time to knock it down effectively – said the head of the Ministry of National Defense.
– On the other hand, shooting down missiles (from Polish territory – ed.) over Ukraine would mean Poland’s entry into the war, and we do not want that – he added.
– Such a proposal will protect the Ukrainian-Polish border. We are doing everything to ensure maximum security in this part of Poland, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki assured.
President Andrzej Duda, in turn, announced that “if Germany does not agree to the departure of the battery to Ukraine, this protection must be accepted by us.”
Polish opposition accuses the government of acting against the national interest and unnecessarily delaying the transfer of these advanced weapons systems to Poland, which would provide extra protection in these turbulent and uncertain times.
“I know that they are in this war with the entire West and Germany above all, but party games are one thing, and the security of Poland, Polish women and men, is an absolutely fundamental matter” – said centrist KO (Civic Coalition) leader Donald Tusk, by many seen as the leader of the opposition in Poland.
“The government is playing with national security and Poland’s position in the anti-Putin coalition,” wrote Paweł Kowal from KO.
Paweł Krutul, Lewica (The Left) said “The raison d’état is the acceptance of these Patriot sets to us, to Poland. The raison d’état is to ensure the security of our country. “
If the rulers have doubts about Germany and are fueling these phobias, do not use it in the context of security – he said.
Polish ruling majority claims that this is not true and that they would accept the weapons regardless of the outcome but they’d much prefer these to be sent to Ukraine.
German Patriot missiles for Poland
The German government, via its Defence Secretary, offered Poland few sets of Patriot missile air defence systems in response to a rocket landing on Polish soil on 15th November, which killed two people. It turned out to be a Ukrainian missile intercepting a Russian weapon.
Offered Patriot systems were intended to help Poland protect its territory against potential threats.
These would be manned and maintained by the German Army, which would have a camp in Poland.
Poland is currently in the middle of buying its very own Patriot rockets, but the training of the crews might take even more than a year. Some experts estimate this to take between 11 and 15 months before it’s fully operational.