Poland will accept the offer made by Germany to extend the deployment of Patriot air defence systems in Poland to the end of 2023, the defence minister has said.
“We spoke about this proposal during the visit to Poland by the German defence minister, Boris Pistorius,” Mariusz Blaszczak told a Polish radio programme on Thursday morning.
“Polish Patriot batteries will be integrated with our air and missile defence system by that time, so we will be ready,” Blaszczak continued.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that Germany had offered to extend the presence of the Patriots in Poland until the end of the year.
The German Defence Ministry, according to Reuters, announced that a further extension of the deployment “is not foreseen” because in 2024 some of the Patriots will be included in Nato’s rapid response force, while others will have to undergo maintenance.
In July, Blaszczak said after meeting Pistorius in the south-eastern city of Zamosc that Poland was interested in keeping German Patriot missile systems in Poland “at least until the end of the year”.
Germany deployed its Patriots to Poland in January after a stray Ukrainian surface-to-air missile landed on Polish territory last November, killing two people.
According to Reuters, along with three Patriot air defence systems, some 300 German soldiers are based in Zamosc, about 50 kilometres from the Ukrainian border.
Referring to critical remarks regarding Poland’s air defence voiced by opposition politicians, Blaszczak accused the opposition of hypocrisy as “during their rule, they had done nothing to improve it.”
The opposition has criticised the Polish government for not being able to spot a Russian missile which landed in a forest in north-central Poland late last year, but whose remains were discovered by a passer-by months later. They also made harsh comments about a more recent incident, where two Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace, but the defence ministry confirmed the incident only hours after people posted pictures of the low-flying aircraft on social media.
“They had announced plans to purchase Patriots but a final deal was signed in 2018 (when the Law and Justice (PiS) was in power – PAP),” Blaszczak said.
“They were focused on ‘a reset’ in relations with (Russian President – PAP) Vladimir Putin but they showed no interest in an anti-missile system,” the defence minister continued.
Blaszczak also said that Poland had been rebuilding now both the air and missile defence systems, “in cooperation with the Americans, as far as Patriots are concerned, and with Britain, which will supply CAMM missiles,” Blaszczak said.