Concern in Poland about reports of its Patriot missile system being transferred to Ukraine

Senior Polish officials have responded nervously to reports that the U.S. will redeploy to Ukraine one of its Patriot air defense systems currently stationed in southeastern Poland

Patriot missles are seen at the Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the U.S. transferred two of its Patriot batteries to Poland to secure the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport as the main hub for aid for Ukraine and officials traveling in and out of the country.

On Wednesday, The New York Times reported, citing unnamed American senior administration and military officials, that President Joe Biden has approved the transfer of a Patriot missile system to Ukraine from Poland, in order to help Kyiv protect itself from Russian attacks.

The head of President Duda’s National Security Bureau (BBN), Jacek Siewiera, responded to the report by telling commercial broadcaster Radio ZET that “American Patriots should not be transferred from Poland to Ukraine” since Poland is a key country supplying Ukraine and providing deterrence on NATO’s eastern flank. 

Deputy Defense Minister Cezary Tomczyk has said that if a Patriot battery is transferred out of Poland, “it would be replaced by one from elsewhere” and that “Poland did not agree to transfer a Polish battery.”

Later in the day, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during his visit to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels that the U.S. did not plan to reduce the protection of Polish airspace with regard to the deployment of Patriot batteries. 

In April this year, Duda responded to calls for European countries to transfer their Patriots to Ukraine by noting that Poland had only “just started the building of a Patriot system” and still “has nothing to give, even if we wanted to.”

In recent months, the Ukrainian government has repeatedly appealed to Western partners to support the Ukrainian armed forces with more anti-aircraft systems, especially Patriot batteries, to provide protection for the Ukrainian army, cities, and infrastructure regularly attacked by Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in April that Ukraine needs at least seven additional Patriot batteries for effective air defense. So far, the U.S. has sent one Patriot system to Ukraine. In recent weeks, the Netherlands and Germany, among others, have pledged to donate the systems as well.

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