Berlin Extends Poland's Patriot Air Defense Shield
Berlin Extends Poland's Patriot Air Defense Shield

Berlin: The deployment of three Patriot air defence units in Poland until the end of 2023 has been offered by Germany, the Berlin defence ministry announced on Tuesday.

"An extension beyond the end of 2023 is not foreseen," the ministry stated in a statement, adding that some of Germany's Patriot units were required for use by NATO's quick reaction force in 2024, while others had to undergo maintenance.

Since the beginning of the year, about 300 German soldiers have been stationed in the Polish town of Zamosc, which is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border, along with three Patriot air defence units, to guard the southern town and its vital railway connection to Ukraine.

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The deployment was brought about by a stray Ukrainian missile that struck the nearby Polish village of Przewodow in November, raising concerns that the conflict in Ukraine might cross the border.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius ignored a request to extend the Patriot mission made by his Polish counterpart during a July visit to Zamosc.

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Relations between Berlin and the dominant nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party in Warsaw have become tense as both parties disagree on a number of issues, including arms shipments to Kyiv and an EU migration deal Poland rejected.

To stop approaching missiles, ground-based air defence systems like Raytheon's Patriot are designed.

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However, because many allies reduced the number of air defence units after the Cold War, they are in short supply across NATO. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, NATO allies rushed to fill any gaps in their own stockpiles while also giving Kiev air defence systems to fend off Russian assaults.

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