Germany in talks with allies on Polish push for Patriot deployment to Ukraine

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  • NATO says decision on Patriot deployment up to specific country
  • Poland asked for German launchers to be sent to western Ukraine

BERLIN/WARSZAWA, Nov 25 (Reuters) – Germany said on Friday it was discussing with ally Poland’s request for German Patriot air defense units to be sent to Ukraine after NATO’s chief suggested the military alliance might not oppose such a move.

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

Berlin offered Warsaw the Patriot system to help secure its airspace after an errant missile crashed and killed two people in Poland last week. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak later asked Germany to send the fire units to Ukraine instead.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said such deployments should be decisions for individual nations, taking into account the rules around end users.

“The specific decisions on specific systems are national decisions,” he told reporters in Brussels.

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

Stoltenberg’s comments came after German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Thursday that sharing Germany’s Patriot units outside NATO territory would requires prior discussions with NATO and the allies.

Patriots are produced by the American company Raytheon (RTX.N).

On Friday, the Polish president said 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 also protect Polish territory, then they would protect both Ukraine and Poland most effectively,” Andrzej Duda said at a press conference in Kaunas, Lithuania. “But the decision rests with the German side.”

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

“But if there is no consent to this, let them stay here (in Poland) and protect us,” Duda wrote on Twitter.

On the sidelines of NATO exercises in northeastern Poland, Blaszczak took a swipe at Berlin by saying he was surprised by the idea that the German patriots might be too advanced to be transferred 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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