It seemed like a step in the direction of more cooperation, but satisfaction has already been replaced by discomfort after a few days. After Germany offered Poland an anti-aircraft system last Monday, Poland is now offering that system to Ukraine. It puts further pressure on the already difficult relationship between Poland and Germany.
The reason for the German offer was the rocket attack in Poland near the border with Ukraine, which killed two Poles. Although there is much evidence that it was an accidental departure from the Ukrainian anti-aircraft system, there was growing concern in Poland that the war could spread further across the border. One of the ways to arm ourselves against this is by strengthening airspace security.
Last Monday, German Defense Minister Lambrecht entered into agreements with his Polish colleague Blaszczak on joint defense of Polish airspace. Part of this agreement was Germany’s offer to supply a Patriot anti-aircraft system. With the added benefit for Germany of possibly improving relations with Poland. The Polish minister then “with pleasure” accepted that offer.
All the more striking is the turnaround that has taken place in Poland since yesterday. First, it was Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, seen by many as the most powerful man in Poland, who reportedly said it was better for Poland’s security if Germany supplied the patriots directly to Ukraine.
Subsequently, Minister Blaszczak also believed that it was a good idea to place the anti-aircraft system directly in Ukraine. “Following further missile attacks by Russia, I have approached Germany to deploy the proposed patriots in Ukraine on the western border. This will prevent Ukrainian casualties and blackouts and improve security on our eastern border,” the minister said. Twitter. Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki confirmed this today, and the reaction in Ukraine was positive.
Talk past each other
There was no immediate excitement from Germany about the reversal, but there was no outright rejection either. “They are patriots planned within NATO’s joint air defense program. That’s why we could offer them to Poland,” Minister Lambrecht said, referring to the fact that Poland is a NATO member and Ukraine is not. “Proposals deviating from this must first be discussed with NATO and allies.”
But the chances of NATO deploying its own assets against Russia directly in Ukraine appear slim. So far, the alliance has held back because it wants to prevent a further escalation of the war. In addition, the deployment of each Patriot system also requires 90 trained military personnel on site.
The chairman of the defense committee in the German parliament, Strack-Zimmermann, therefore believes that the German offer was actually intended for Poland itself and not NATO. “Remarkable how people can talk past each other like that,” she says.
It is unclear why the Poles had initially accepted the German proposal and then rejected it. The Polish opposition points to the domestic political interests of PiS, the governing party of Blaszczak, Morawiecki and Kaczynski. Next year there are elections in Poland, and Germany often has to pay for PiS. According to the party, the neighboring country poses a threat to Polish sovereignty.
History plays an important role in this difficult relationship between the two countries. Poland was one of the Germans’ biggest losses during World War II. The Polish government also believes that Germany is delaying too much in delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine.
Speaking to the radio station Rmf.fm, former Polish president Komorowski, an opponent of PiS, said today: “It is difficult to accept German help and at the same time in politics spit on Germany when you can, almost accusing it of aggressive intentions against Germany. Poland..” The twist would be a way out, a way for the government to reject the German offer without saying it out loud.
The Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza already attacked the government on Tuesday. “What now, Mr. Kaczynski? Germany is offering us modern missile defense systems to defend Polish airspace. Isn’t that disturbing our internal affairs?”
We cannot accept that, the newspaper continues sarcastically. “That Berlin, despite the persistent anti-German campaign of the PiS government, now turns out to be a friend and faithful ally of our country, helping us in times of need.”