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Germany to Deploy Patriot Missiles to Defend Polish Airspace

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 11/21/2022 Piotr Bujnicki and Piotr Skolimowski
A Patriot anti aircraft missile launcher Vehicle stands on display on the first day of the ILA Berlin 2022 air show on June 22, 2022 in Schoenefeld, Germany. © Photographer: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images A Patriot anti aircraft missile launcher Vehicle stands on display on the first day of the ILA Berlin 2022 air show on June 22, 2022 in Schoenefeld, Germany.

(Bloomberg) -- Germany will send Patriot missiles and fighter jets to Poland as part of an air-defense deal following a strike that raised fears of a significant escalation between NATO allies and Russia.

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Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the missiles will be deployed near the Ukrainian border, securing an agreement less than a week after an explosion killed two people in a village near the Ukrainian border. 

The incident came nine months after President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine. It was defused after NATO and Polish authorities attributed the blast, which occurred during a broad Russian missile strike on Ukraine, to Ukrainian air-defense targeting a Russian projectile.

“Poland is our friend, ally and stands out as a neighbor of Ukraine,” German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement on Monday. The details of the agreement will be worked out by the technical staff, she added. 

The deal stands in contrast to the fraught relations between the two countries. Poland’s ruling party has pilloried the government in Berlin for what it calls a slow response to Russian aggression. Warsaw this year launched a campaign to demand Germany pay $1.3 trillion in compensation for wartime damages.

The blast opened a debate about air-defense systems in Ukraine as well as in the NATO member states in the region. In September, Poland began receiving equipment for its first two US Patriot battery systems, which are set to become operational in late 2023. 

Read More: Polish Blast Puts Focus on Ukraine Need for Stronger Air Defense

The Raytheon-made surface-to-air Patriots can shoot down attacking missiles but also have high-tech sensors that help in identifying what’s in the air.

Lambrecht announced the offer in an interview with the Rheinische Post newspaper on Monday. She said Germany intends to extend a deployment of Patriot batteries in Slovakia, a NATO member state that also borders Ukraine, through 2023 -- “and maybe even longer.” NATO must also look for ways to strengthen air defenses in the Baltic region, she told the newspaper.

--With assistance from Iain Rogers and Natalia Drozdiak.

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