The Polish government rejected, this Thursday, an anti-missile system offered by Germany, saying it should be given to Ukraine, a proposal that is not valid for Berlin, because it would increase NATO’s involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Poland’s response to the German offer has been welcomed by Ukraine, which is desperate to protect its airspace as Russian bombing damages power structures across the country.
But, meanwhile, the Minister of Defense of Germany, Christine Lambrecht, stressed that the use of NATO defense systems outside its territory needs to be agreed upon by all Member States.
“It is important for us that Poland can count on allies so that there is support among all, even in difficult times,” Lambrecht told reporters in Berlin.
“That’s why we volunteered to support air policing and [mísseis] Patriot, which are part of an integrated NATO air defense, that is, they are destined for NATO territory. If they were used outside the NATO area, this must be agreed in advance with NATO and the allies,” he added.
In Poland, critics of the ruling populist party have accused him of sacrificing the country’s security with a neighboring war in Ukraine for the sake of a domestic political struggle that exploits anti-German sentiment for short-term gains.
“This proposal affects Poland’s credibility and, worst of all, its security. The Germans get a clear signal that we don’t want their help, the defense potential of the Polish sky will be less. In the worst war in Europe since 1945 , this is an unforgivable mistake,” wrote Rzeczpospolita deputy daily editor Michal Szuldrzynski.
Poland’s ruling populist party, which faces elections next autumn and whose popularity has been hurt by 18% inflation, has been stepping up its anti-German message — which has long been part of its rhetoric.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO strengthened its defenses along its eastern flank, including Poland, while Warsaw worked to strengthen its armed forces with weapons acquisitions.