Poland upsets some by rejecting German air defense system

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.

But 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. defenses will fall,” wrote Deputy Editor-in-Chief Michal Zurzynski. “In Europe’s worst war since 1945, this is an unforgivable mistake.”

Poland’s populist ruling party, which faces re-election next year and whose popularity has been dented by 18% inflation, has gradually strengthened the anti-German message that has long been a staple of the party’s campaign rhetoric. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski is also trying to tie his domestic opponents, particularly former EU leader Donald Tusk, to Germany, saying that if Tusk’s party wins next year, Poland will be “under German boots”. said on Sunday that he would be in

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

Since then, both Blaszczak and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki have repeated Kaczynski’s position of commanding the country’s government from behind the scenes.

After Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine on February 24th, NATO stepped up its eastern defenses and Poland worked to strengthen its own armed forces.

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 has demanded her $1.3 trillion war reparations from Germany, which Berlin says it will not pay.

Kaczynski also accuses Germany of withholding funding to support the EU’s efforts to protect the rule of law in Poland.

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 initial reluctance to arm Ukraine.

In Poland, some critics noted that the government had not only refused higher military protection, but had also turned its back on vital 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.”