The Polish government has rebuffed an offer from Germany to deploy Patriot air defense missiles to Poland by suggesting that they should be sent to Ukraine instead, which would significantly escalate NATO involvement in the war with Russia.
Sending the Patriots to Poland would require deploying German troops to operate them, which would mean direct NATO intervention in the war. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht rejected the idea on the grounds that Ukraine is not a NATO member.
“These are Patriot systems that are part of integrated NATO air-defense planning. That’s why it was possible to make this offer to Poland,” Lambrecht said. “Any proposal that deviates from that must now be discussed with NATO and with our allies.”
Germany made the offer after a Ukrainian air defense missile landed in Poland, killing two people. Poland initially suggested that it would accept Germany’s offer for the Patriot deployment, which would also involve German warplanes flying near the Ukrainian border.
The Polish rejection of the German offer highlights the tensions between the two NATO members. Poland has been a major supporter of Ukraine, having sent hundreds of Soviet-era tanks to the country, and has criticized the German government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz for being too hesitant to arm Kyiv.
The Polish government faced domestic criticism for its suggestion that the Patriots should be sent to Ukraine. Rzeczpospolita, a Polish daily newspaper, said the decision was “shocking” since it “would involve NATO in a direct clash with Russia, something the alliance has been trying to avoid from the beginning.”