Germany will not send Patriot missile systems to Ukraine despite Polish hopes
Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher
Germany will not agree to deploy Patriot air defence missile systems to Ukraine despite insistence from Poland. Policymakers in Warsaw are aware of this fact, but this does not stop large elements of the Polish establishment and political class from trying to enforce this.
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht recently announced an agreement with her Polish counterpart to allow German Eurofighter war jets to patrol Polish airspace and deploy Patriot air defence systems in the country. Later, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Chairman of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak came up with the idea of deploying the German Patriot air defence systems in Ukraine instead of Poland.
Although Warsaw initially accepted Berlin’s offer for Patriot systems, following the recent missile strike, claimed by the West to have killed two men after hitting Polish territory, suggestions have been made to deliver the systems to Ukraine instead.
“After further missile attacks [by Russia], I have asked the [German] side to transfer and deploy the proposed Patriot batteries along the western border [of Ukraine]. This will allow to protect [Ukraine] from further casualties and blackout and enhance security along our eastern border,” the Polish Defence Minister tweeted.
Blaszczak said in an earlier tweet that he would propose to his German counterpart “to deploy this system close to the border with Ukraine.”
Despite this audacious idea, it is unlikely that Germany will deploy Patriot missile systems in Ukraine instead of Poland. The fact that Germany will not supply Patriot systems to Ukraine is justified by a number of immediate factors, such as the Ukrainian military not being trained in how to use the Patriot systems as they only know Soviet-made weapons and air defence systems, such as the S-300. Ukraine has never operated a Patriot system and it would take half a year of training to learn its functions – and only at an elementary level.
It is very unlikely that Berlin will deploy Patriot systems in Ukraine as it will deepen its participation, and the whole of NATO, in the war, something which could cross the redline given by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Germany is unwilling to go into direct conflict with Russia and would rather focus on economic matters, and thus finding a resolution to the war in Ukraine is of higher priority.
In addition, Germany will not give up its Patriot systems to Ukraine because they do not want to lose this weapon. If German Patriot systems enter Ukraine, there is a very high probability that they will be destroyed by Russian artillery fire or airstrikes.
Russia previously sent a note to NATO countries because of their weapon shipments to Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that any shipment of weapons to Ukraine would become the target of Russian strikes. The Russian Foreign Ministry also warned NATO countries that they are “playing with fire” by supplying weapons to Ukraine. Presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, for his part, said that the supply of weapons from the West to Ukraine does not contribute to the success of negotiations between Moscow and Kiev, and will instead have a negative impact.
According to Jaroslaw Adamowski, Defense News’ Poland correspondent, the latest development with Berlin has exposed differences within the country’s ruling Law and Justice party. He highlighted that Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was re-elected in 2020 with the party’s support, tweeted on November 25, that if Berlin “does not agree to deliver the batteries to Ukraine, then we must accept this defence here [in Poland].”
Adamowski believes that Duda’s statement is a signal that some decision-makers in Warsaw are willing to reach an understanding with Germany.
This is necessary because Poland’s current proposal would force Germany to cross Russia’s redline. Any German Patriot system in Ukraine would involve German troops operating the launchers on the battlefield as Ukrainian personnel simply do not have the skills. Although the Germans have supported Kiev with weapons and military equipment, like all other NATO member states, Berlin has not officially deployed its armed forces for direct involvement in the conflict, and unlikely will despite Warsaw’s attempts of coercion.
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