Germany has offered eight Patriot air defense missile launchers to boost Poland’s air defenses, revealed Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak while speaking to parliament on Thursday. However, Błaszczak said that according to Polish military specialists, the launchers would best be located in western Ukraine where they could defend both Ukrainian and Polish territory from attack.
Błaszczak, who also serves as Poland’s deputy prime minister, added that strengthening Ukraine’s air defenses was crucial from the point of view of preventing another mass exodus from Ukraine. He confirmed that Poland was not proposing that Germans should man the air defense systems in Ukraine, but instead the launchers would be handled by the Ukrainian military.
The Polish defense chief believed the argument that Ukrainians would require lengthy training to handle the launchers was bogus. According to Błaszczak, Ukrainians are being trained all the time to handle modern rocket delivery systems such as the U.S.-manufactured HIMARS.
“The fact that Ukrainians are already using HIMARS and with considerable effect also debunks the lie that Patriot systems can only be deployed on NATO territory,” said the Polish defense minister.
Błaszczak told MPs that Ukraine has reacted positively to his suggestion to transfer Patriot systems to Ukraine.
“They have often requested further assistance with air defense, including the Patriot system,” he said.
Błaszczak also revealed that he had spoken on Wednesday with German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, who had promised him that she would present the Polish proposal to the German government. Błaszczak, in turn, offered Poland’s full support for the idea of shipping the Patriot systems to Ukraine and said that he hoped the Polish proposal would be accepted by other NATO countries.