During his second visit to Poland on Monday, Boris Pistorius experienced a more constructive encounter than in February. The Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, who had refused the guest a joint press conference after a ruthlessly open discussion, this time faced the media with Pistorius and demonstrated some harmony.
Political correspondent for Poland, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania based in Warsaw.
In the anti-aircraft barracks in Zamość in south-eastern Poland, both posed in front of wheeled armored vehicles, the German in a white shirt, the Pole in all-terrain clothing with khaki trousers. Then they drove into the countryside. Zamość is about 50 kilometers from the border with Ukraine. Two batteries with “Patriot” anti-aircraft missiles from the Bundeswehr have been stationed here since February.
When a missile, apparently a misguided defense missile from the Ukrainian army, killed two people in a Polish village in November, the territory of the North Atlantic Alliance was affected for the first time by the Russian-Ukrainian war. Berlin offered to send anti-missile missiles for a limited time. After political wrangling within the right-wing government camp, Warsaw agreed.
Błaszczak and Pistorius at the press conference on Monday: Photo: dpa
About 320 German soldiers are now deployed here. However, they are only allowed to launch rockets or planes with their device once they have reached Polish airspace. But the missile lending period will end at the end of July – unless an extension is agreed. As it was said on Monday, this is still being negotiated. “We appreciate the presence of these batteries on Polish soil,” said the host in Zamość.
“We are interested in the German Patriot system being on Polish soil at least by the end of this year.” Poland plays an important role in the supply of military equipment to Ukraine. German and, further south, American Patriot batteries protected the supplies. Błaszczak pointed out that Poland was endangered by Belarus’ “complete subordination” to the will of Russia.
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Another topic was also discussed: the sluggish talks about a planned repair center in Poland for the Leopard tanks supplied by Germany and Poland to Ukraine. Pistorius signed a corresponding declaration of intent with Błaszczak in May. According to Pistorius at the time, tanks that come back from the front damaged or worn out must “be able to be repaired and repaired quickly if necessary”.
The center will cost about 150 million euros. So far, however, there is only one draft contract, as reported by “Spiegel” over the weekend. Accordingly, the German armaments companies Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) are to set up a joint venture.
A joint tank workshop would then be set up with the state-owned Polish armory PGZ. According to “Spiegel”, however, the PGZ demanded far inflated sums for the assessment of damaged tanks, which Berlin would have to pay. The PGZ also does not want to assume any guarantee, which is unusual. In February, Pistorius spoke diplomatically of one of the “clearest and most honest conversations imaginable”. Now the German defense minister was putting pressure on publicly. The talks should be ended “if possible” within the next ten days, Pistorius said at the press conference with Błaszczak.
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