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Poland plays politics with German Patriot missile offering – POLITICO

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WARSAW — Germany thought it was doing its allies a favor when it offered to send Patriot anti-missile systems to Poland after it was hit by missiles that crossed over from Ukraine.

Instead, Warsaw has responded with a dramatic change in policy, leaving behind a constant stream of insults hurled at Berlin as part of the nationalist ruling party’s efforts to fan anti-German sentiment ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections. T. So far, no German air defense systems have arrived.

It wasn’t the first idea.

On November 15, a missile hit the Polish border village of Przewodow, killing two people. It was determined to be a false Ukrainian air defense missile trying to shoot down a Russian rocket. The first deaths in a NATO and EU member state from the war in Ukraine have put Poland’s air defenses under scrutiny.

Berlin last week provided two Patriot batteries — a US-made surface-to-air system costing about $1 billion per battery — and German Eurofighter jets to help patrol Polish skies.

The initial reaction from Warsaw was frankly enthusiastic.

“We have satisfactorily accepted the German Defense Minister’s proposal to equip our country with additional Patriot missile launchers,” Defense Minister Marius Blaszczak said. Said in a tweet

“I propose to place the system on the border with Ukraine,” Błaszczak added.

On November 15, 2022, a missile hit the Polish border village of Przevodow, killing two people. Wojtek Radwanski, AFP via Damien Simonart/Getty Images

not so early

Then Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of the ruling Polish Law and Justice (PiS) party and leader of the country de facto Leader, come in.

Two days after Błaszczak’s initial reaction, Kaczynski told the state-run Polish News Agency:

Błaszczak followed a few hours later. Tweet U-turned his initial response, stating that the message to Berlin now was to “relocate the proposed Patriot battery to Ukraine and deploy it on its western borders.”

A stunned German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Nov. 24 that “the Patriots are an element of NATO’s joint air and missile defense, which means they will be deployed on NATO territory.” .

Germany’s ambassador to Warsaw, Thomas Bagger, told commercial broadcaster TVN24.

“These batteries could be on Poland’s eastern border, and therefore on the eastern flank of the alliance, they could happen very quickly, within days, possibly weeks. , the story of relocation to Ukraine is a completely different matter, ”Bagger said.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he “welcomed” the German proposal, but said it “still depends on the nation’s decision” on where to deploy the system.

Kaczyński responded by questioning Germany’s status as a NATO ally.

“Germany’s attitude so far gives no reason to believe that it will decide to intercept a Russian missile,” Kaczynski said at a news conference on Monday.

He also said German patriots in Poland would be an “aesthetic choice” with no “military or political significance”.

That’s not true, said retired Army General Stanislaw Kodzej, former head of Poland’s National Security Agency.

“It is clear that the more air defenses there are, the safer Polish airspace will be,” Kozy told POLITICO.

Poland is in the process of deploying Patriots, which it purchased from the US years ago, and Koziej said the launchers from Germany will further strengthen the country’s anti-missile defenses.

“We have anti-aircraft defenses, but we still don’t have enough anti-missile systems,” he said.

play politics

But PiS and Kaczynski are doing more than enhancing air defenses, says Anna Siewierska Czymayi, a political scientist at Rzeszów University.

The Communist Party is trying to boost its rankings in the polls by using Germany as a convenient punching bag — demanding that Germany pay eye-popping reparations for World War II damage. , accuses Germany of siding with the EU in the rule of law dispute it has seen. Withholding payments of reconstruction funds to Poland and colluding with Polish opposition parties, especially former Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

“That’s the real goal of Mr. Donald Tusk. To make Poland dependent on Germany. To make Poland dependent on German decisions, including structures and command decisions.

Siewierska-Chmaj says the game is clear.

It’s fertile ground for PiS.a poll A record 31% of Poles surveyed felt that relations with Germany were “bad”, according to a survey conducted last month by the state agency CBOS.

“Being anti-German may not give the PiS new voters, but at least it will stop voters from leaving,” Siewierska-Chmaj added.

After a week of back and forth between Poland, Germany and NATO, not much light is being shed on Poland’s position.

“If such a deployment is not possible for various political reasons, for example the position of Germany, Poland should not completely abandon these missiles,” said Andrzej Duda’s presidential secretary Pawel Shlot. Stated.

but blaszczak Said On Wednesday, he is lobbying Lambrecht to send the battery to Ukraine. “I expect approval,” he said.

Germany says the Patriots are still there, despite rejections from fickle neighbors.

“Our proposal to the Polish government to defend itself is still under consideration,” Scholz said at a press conference in Berlin.

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