Poland Buys Patriot Missiles Amid Tensions With Russia
Poland signed a deal with the U.S. Wednesday to buy a Patriot anti-missile system for $4.75 billion. The deal not only marks Poland’s entry into the modern world of war technology, but also its establishment as the eastern flank of NATO in response to heightened tensions with Russia.
The Patriot system, manufactured by U.S. defense company Raytheon, will be delivered in 2022 and marks Warsaw’s largest weapons agreement in Polish history. Additionally, the system includes the option to pursue more missile units, namely a 360-degree radar and an interceptor missile. So far, 14 other countries have the Patriot missile system. Other countries, such as Sweden or Switzerland, also announced their respective deals with the U.S. last year.
Air defenses are currently an important issue in the Baltic states since NATO planners stated that Russia could use Kaliningrad and Crimea to block off NATO’s air access to the Baltic states. Most Baltic states struggle to meet the high costs of missile defenses with their small economies, increasing pressure on Washington to alleviate the respective costs for the “state-of-the-art” defenses, as Polish president Andrzej Duda referred to his newest acquisition.
The president, who recently gained increasing international attention due to his highly conservative domestic course, justified the toll of the expenses with its necessity: "It's a lot of money, but we also know from our historical experience that security has no price."
Accordingly, the new Patriot deal also responds to Monday's expulsion of Russian diplomats from 25 countries claiming solidarity with the UK where Russian agents are suspected of poisoning a former Russian spy. Only Russia doesn’t seem too fond of Poland’s decision as Russian Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov made clear by referring to the move as another step towards a U.S. plot to surround Russia with defense systems legitimized by a “pretext of mythical threats to security."
For Poland, the Patriot deal also came as a relief regarding its recent tensions with Washington since Poland introduced a law that punishes any statement suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust with jail time. Accordingly, Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated the agreement showed “solidarity and cooperation” with the U.S. and NATO in general.