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Poland upsets some by rebuffing German air defense system

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WARSAW, POLAND (AP) — The anti-missile system Germany proposed to send to Poland should be sent to Ukraine instead, the Polish government says.

Poland’s surprise response to Berlin’s proposal was welcomed by Ukraine, which is desperate to protect its airspace as a barrage of Russian missiles knocks out power across the country.

However, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht stressed that the use of NATO defense systems outside its territory requires the agreement of all member states.

“It is important that Poland can rely on its allies to support each other even in difficult times, especially in a situation where Poland is at risk,” Lambrecht told reporters in Berlin. .

“That’s why we offered to help the Air Police and the Patriots, but these Patriots are part of NATO’s integrated air defense, which means they target NATO territory.” “If they are to be used outside NATO territory, they must be agreed with NATO and our allies in advance,” the minister said.

In Poland, critics of the populist ruling party accused the country of sacrificing national security in a war in neighboring Ukraine for a domestic political struggle that exploits anti-German sentiment for immediate gain.

The Rzeczpospolita daily called the new proposal by the Polish leader “shocking”, saying that German soldiers operating the system would have to be sent to Ukraine, “which would result in NATO being embroiled in direct conflict with Russia. will become,” he claimed. I try to avoid it from the beginning.”

“This proposal will affect Poland’s credibility and, worst of all, its security. Air defenses will be reduced,” wrote Deputy Editor-in-Chief Michal Zurzynski. “In Europe’s worst war since 1945, this is an unforgivable mistake.”

Poland’s populist ruling party, facing elections next fall and whose popularity has been dented by 18% inflation, has gradually strengthened its anti-German message that has long been a staple of the party’s campaign rhetoric. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is also trying to link his domestic opponents, particularly former European Union leader Donald Tusk, to Germany, saying that if Tusk’s party wins next year, Poland will ” “It will be under the boots of Germany,” he said on Sunday.

When Germany recently offered Warsaw a Eurofighter plane and a Patriot air defense missile battery, Polish Defense Minister Marius Blaszczak initially said he accepted the offer “with satisfaction”. The offer came after two men were killed in Poland near the Ukrainian border on November 15 when an apparently straying Ukrainian defense projectile fell.

But after Kaczynski interviewed state news agency PAP on Wednesday, Poland’s attitude changed, saying that while the offer was “interesting”, “it would be best for Poland’s security if Germany handed over the equipment to the Ukrainians.” Stated.

Since then, Blaszczak and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki have repeated the position of Kaczynski, the country’s most powerful leader.

After Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, NATO bolstered the defenses of Russia’s eastern flank, including Poland, and Warsaw has worked to bolster its own armed forces with major arms purchases.

NATO deployed US Patriot batteries in Poland, German Patriot batteries in Slovakia, and French equivalent systems in Romania.

NATO’s policy is to deploy artillery batteries only to protect member states, not directly involved in warfare.

Capitalizing on anti-German sentiment has long been a political strategy to win votes in Poland. Older Poles are still traumatized by the atrocities Germany inflicted on Poland during World War II. With the election campaign underway, Poland is demanding her $1.3 trillion war reparations from Germany, which the German government claims will not pay.

Kaczynski also accuses Germany of withholding funding for defending the rule of law in Poland and supporting EU efforts to overturn changes in the judicial system.

Meanwhile, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created new tensions. Poland has long criticized Germany’s gas deal with Russia, as well as Germany’s reluctance to arm Ukraine.

In Poland, some critics noted that the government has not only refused stronger military protection, but has also turned its back on critical EU funding.

Marcin Kiawinski, of the opposition Civil Platform Party, said Kaczynski was “crazy” for “refusing” Patriot missiles and EU funding “during war and crisis.”

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Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber from Berlin and Lorne Cook from Brussels contributed to this report.

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Follow all AP articles on the effects of war in Ukraine.

https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.

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