US moves additional anti-missile batteries to Poland
The Pentagon has said it would move two Patriot anti-missile batteries to Poland at Warsaw’s “invitation.” The US military has claimed that the deployment was purely defensive in nature.
“This defensive deployment is being conducted proactively to counter any potential threat to US and Allied forces and NATO territory,” the United States European Command (EUCOM) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The combatant command further stressed that the mobile missile systems, which use guided munitions to intercept and destroy hostile targets, are “a prudent force protection measure” that “in no way support any offensive operations.”
#EUCOM statement on US military repositioning two #Patriot air defense units to Poland amid ongoing conflict in #Ukraine, says this is in no way support of any offensive operations. It is a force protection measure against threat from #Russia. pic.twitter.com/oji78OrxEJ— Kristopher Rivera (@kgrivera) March 9, 2022
Since the start of the Russian military offensive in Ukraine on February 24, Poland has become one of the most vocal proponents of increased military assistance to Ukraine. Earlier on Tuesday, Warsaw suggested handing over its entire fleet of Soviet-built MiG-29 jets to the Pentagon so that Washington could then transfer the warplanes to Ukraine. The scheme envisioned a handover of the Polish-owned jets at a NATO military base in Germany, where the US was supposed to take over the mission and fly the craft into Ukraine. In return, Warsaw hoped to receive used fighters with similar capabilities from the US.
The proposal was rejected by Washington later on Tuesday. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby stated that the proposed deal was not “tenable,” as the implementation of the plan risked dragging NATO into the military conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Kiev has repeatedly appealed to NATO to declare a no-fly zone over its territory – though to no avail. The bloc has argued that such a commitment would likely draw other European countries into the hostilities, sparking a “full-fledged war” on the continent.