Germany offers Poland Patriot system after stray missile blast

MIM-104 Patriot short-range anti-aircraft missile systems for defense against aircraft, cruise missiles and medium-range tactical ballistic missiles are currently located at Rzeszow Airport. Christophe Gateau/PAP/DPA

The German government has offered Poland the Patriot missile defence system to help it to secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed near a Polish village lying close to the Ukrainian border last week killing two people.

Although an investigation is underway it is widely accepted the missile was probably fired by Ukrainian air-defence forces.

Germany has also said its air force could help patrol Polish skies.

Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said: "We have offered Poland our help with the defence of its airspace with our Eurofighters and with Patriot air defence system." DUMITRU DORU/PAP/EPA

"We have offered Poland our help with the defence of its airspace with our Eurofighters and with Patriot air defence system," Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said, as cited by the German dpa agency on Monday.

Lambrecht also said that the Alliance (Nato - PAP) must improve its air defence.

Poland's defence minister, Mariusz Blaszczak said that he was "satisfied with the German Minister of Defence's proposal regarding the deployment of additional Patriot missile launchers in our country."

Posting on Twitter he added: “During today's telephone conversation with the German side, I will propose that the system be stationed at the border with Ukraine.”

Poland's defence minister, Mariusz Blaszczak said that he was "satisfied with the German Minister of Defence's proposal regarding the deployment of additional Patriot missile launchers in our country." Mariusz Błaszczak/Twitter

Later on Monday, President Andrzej Duda said that the German offer was "an important allied gesture in a situation, in which the entire North Atlantic Alliance finds itself today, and in which Poland and our neighbour, Germany, have found themselves."

"We want the Patriot system to be located close to the Ukrainian border and to protect this area," Duda told a private television programme.

Asked whether Germany was Poland's rival or ally, the president said it was an ally.

"Poland and Germany are both Nato members, they carry out joint military projects, their soldiers take part in joint exercises," President Duda said, reiterating that both countries belonged to the same defence alliance. 

Also later on Monday, Blaszczak wrote on Twitter that Lambrecht had confirmed the offer.

"I am after talks with (Christine - PAP) Lambrecht. The German defence minister has confirmed the will to deploy Patriot missile batteries near the border with Ukraine," Blaszczak wrote.

He added that the technical details of the system, its delivery and the duration of its operation in Poland still needed to be discussed with the German side.

The US-made Patriot system is a medium-range air-defence system, used by the USA and Germany, and since October this year also by Poland.

By the end of 2022, the Polish Army is set to be equipped with two Patriot batteries (16 launchers).

In addition, two US Patriot batteries are stationed in Poland.