WARSAW, Poland — According to the Polish government, the anti-missile system offered by Germany to Poland should instead go to Ukraine. This proposal is probably a no-go for Berlin, because it would significantly increase NATO’s role in Ukraine.
Poland’s surprise response to Berlin’s offer was welcomed by Ukraine, which is desperate to protect its airspace after a barrage of Russian missiles knocked out power across the country.
In Poland, however, critics of the populist ruling party accused him of sacrificing the country’s security with a war in neighboring Ukraine for a domestic political struggle that exploits anti-German sentiment for short-term gain.
The Rzeczpospolita daily called the Polish leaders’ new proposal “shocking,” arguing that German soldiers operating the system should be sent to Ukraine, and “this would involve NATO in a direct confrontation with Russia, which the alliance has done.” I tried to avoid it from the beginning.”
“This proposal affects Poland’s credibility and, worst of all, its security. The Germans will receive a clear signal that we do not ask for their help, so the defense potential of Polish skies will be lower,” wrote deputy editor Michal Szuldrzynski. “In the worst war in Europe since 1945, this is an unforgivable mistake.”
Poland’s populist ruling party, due for re-election next year due to its popularity due to 18% inflation, continues to ramp up its anti-German messages, which have long been a mainstay of the party’s campaign rhetoric. Party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski also tried to tie his domestic opponents, especially former EU leader Donald Tusk, to Germany, saying on Sunday that if Tusk’s party wins next year, Poland will find itself “under the German boot”.
When Germany recently offered Warsaw Eurofighter jets and Patriot anti-aircraft missile batteries, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak initially said he was “satisfied” to accept the offer. The offer comes after two people were killed on November 15 when an apparently stray Ukrainian defense projectile crashed in Poland near the Ukrainian border.
But Poland’s tone changed after Kaczynski gave an interview to state news agency PAP on Wednesday, saying the offer was “interesting” but “it would be best for Poland’s security if Germany hands over the equipment to the Ukrainians.”
Since then, both Blaszczak and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki have repeated the position of Kaczynski, who controls the country’s government from behind the scenes.
After Russia’s February 24 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, NATO strengthened its defenses along its eastern flank, while Poland worked to strengthen its own military.
NATO deployed US Patriot batteries in Poland, German Patriot batteries in Slovakia, and a French equivalent system in Romania.
NATO’s policy is not to get directly involved in war and deploy batteries only for the defense of member countries.
Exploiting anti-German sentiment has long been a political strategy to win votes in Poland. Older Poles still carry the trauma of Germany’s atrocities against Poland during World War II. During the election campaign, Poland demanded $1.3 trillion in war reparations from Germany – which Berlin says it will not pay.
Kaczynski also blames Germany for supporting the European Union’s efforts to protect the rule of law in Poland by withholding aid.
Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine created new tensions. Poland has long criticized Germany’s gas deals with Russia and Germany’s initial reluctance to arm Ukraine.
In Poland, some critics have pointed out that the government is not only refusing higher levels of military protection, but is also turning its back on critical EU funding, which has withheld billions of euros from the government’s refusal to comply with EU directives to preserve the independence of judges. .
Marcin Kierwinski, a representative of the opposition Civic Platform party, said Kaczynski was “crazy” for “rejecting” Patriot missiles and EU funding “in a time of war and crisis”.