Germany to strengthen Polish air defence systems

Presidents enter talks on how German Patriot missiles can keep Poland's airspace safe

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, and Polish President Andrzej Duda at Bellevue Palace in Berlin on Monday. EPA
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Germany has discussed supplying Poland with Patriot missiles as talks on how to integrate the batteries into Warsaw’s air defence system progress.

“Strengthening Poland’s air defence is of the greatest importance for building our security,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said in Berlin after meeting German head of state Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Mr Duda said he hoped for an agreement in “coming days.”

The Polish government made an about-face this month after initially rebuffing a German offer to station surface-to-air Patriots on its soil, saying they should be delivered to Ukraine.

But Berlin said that was a matter for Nato as a whole.

The Patriot batteries must be integrated into Poland’s entire air defence and under the relevant command, said Mr Duda, who is also the nation’s commander-in-chief.

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Mr Steinmeier welcomed the “basic agreement” on the Patriots, which were offered after a stray Ukrainian defence missile landed on Polish territory, killing two people.

The incident brught a moment of anxiety over a potential direct conflict between Russia and Nato.

“We spoke by phone a few hours after the missile struck eastern Poland,” Mr Steinmeier said.

“I well remember how great the fear and how great the concerns were in Poland at the time.”

Updated: December 12, 2022, 11:09 PM