Germany in talks with allies about Polish pressure to deploy Patriots in Ukraine

  • NATO says the decision to deploy Patriots to a specific country
  • Poland has asked to send German launchers to western Ukraine

BERLIN/WARSAW, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Germany said on Friday it was discussing with allies Poland a request for German Patriot air defense units to be sent to Ukraine after the head of NATO suggested the military alliance should not oppose such a move.

“We are talking to our allies about how to deal with the Polish … proposal,” a German government spokesman told reporters in Berlin.

Berlin offered Warsaw the Patriot system to help secure its airspace after a stray missile crashed in Poland last week, killing two people. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak later asked Germany to send firefighting units to Ukraine instead.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that such a deployment should be decided by individual countries, taking into account the rules regarding end users.

“Specific decisions about specific systems are national decisions,” he told reporters in Brussels.

“Sometimes there are end-user agreements and other things, so they need to consult with other allies. But ultimately it (the decision) has to be taken by national governments,” he added.

Stoltenberg’s comments came after German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Thursday that sharing German Patriot units outside NATO territory would require prior negotiations with NATO and allies.

The Patriots are made by U.S. company Raytheon ( RTX.N ).

Poland’s president said on Friday that it was Germany’s decision where its Patriot air defense units are stationed, adding that it would be better for Poland’s security if they were on Ukrainian territory near the border.

“From a military point of view, it would be best if they were located in Ukraine to protect Polish territory as well, then they would protect both Ukraine and Poland most effectively,” Andrzej Duda said at a press conference in Kaunas, Lithuania. “But the decision is on the German side.

Duda later said Germany could send Patriot units to Ukraine without NATO troops operating them, something he says Kyiv has been asking for for some time.

“But if there is no agreement, let them be here (in Poland) and protect us,” Duda wrote on Twitter.

On the sidelines of NATO exercises in northeastern Poland, Blaszczak took to Berlin to say he was surprised by the idea that German patriots might be too advanced to be taken to Ukraine.

“These are the old patriots, the Polish version is the latest… the claim that the old German patriots are very advanced is not true,” he said.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Bart Meijer and Miranda Murray; Additional reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw; editing by Frank Jack Daniel, Philippa Fletcher, William Maclean

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