US Patriot missile unit deploys in Poland

Discussion in 'Strategic Forces' started by LETHALFORCE, May 27, 2010.

  1. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/US_Patriot_missile_unit_deploys_in_Poland_Russia_bristles_999.html

    US Patriot missile unit deploys in Poland, Russia bristles

    Polish and US officials unveiled on Wednesday the first battery of US surface-to-air Patriot-type missiles to be stationed on Polish soil, a move that has vexed Poland's communist-era master Russia.

    "We regard the deployment of the Patriot system in Poland as an important step increasing our national security and in developing strategic cooperation with the United States," said Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich, whose country joined NATO in 1999 a decade after the communist bloc collapsed.

    Klich formally welcomed the 100-strong US unit that had arrived at a Polish army base in the northern town of Morag at the weekend, and viewed the three unarmed Patriot missile launchers which Polish troops will be trained to use.

    "Your arrival here in Poland has two dimensions, political and symbolic. Politically, it's about Poland's security. And symbolically because on Polish soil, for the first time, US soldiers will be stationed long-term," he said.

    The unit, normally stationed in Kaiserslautern, western Germany, is the first to take part in a 30-day training deployment in Poland.

    Similar rotations are due every quarter until a year-round deployment starts in 2012.

    Klich said he hoped staunch ally Washington would station more troops in Poland in the future.

    The Patriot system, which the US military says has a range of "more than 100 kilometres", aims to intercept surface-to-surface missiles.

    Morag is just 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the border with Russia's Kaliningrad territory.

    The deployment has raised Russian hackles.

    "It is unclear why such a region located in the immediate proximity to the Russian border has been found for the deployment and where, as far as we know, there are no objects of military infrastructure," the Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Russian foreign ministry official as saying.

    The official said the move would "not lead to the strengthening of stability in this region but on the contrary decrease trust and predictability".

    Poland has repeatedly insisted Morag was not chosen for political or strategic reasons, but simply due to infrastructure.

    The US unit's spokesman, Lt. Col. Daniel Herrigstad, underlined that. He said Morag's railhead and secure storage were the primary reason, and sites elsewhere in Poland could also be used in the future.

    Klich rejected suggestions the deployment was a threat.

    "You don't need to be a specialist to realise that this system can't be changed from defensive to offensive. Hence this system doesn't pose a risk to anyone, to none of our neighbours," he told reporters after the ceremony.

    "We will be repeating that every day if we have to," he said.

    "We don't treat Russia as a country that poses a threat to our country," he added, and said the deployment was simply part of an ongoing military upgrade since Poland joined NATO.

    US ambassador Lee Feinstein underscored Klich's remarks.

    "Of course the Patriots are an entirely defensive weapons system that poses no threat to any country," Feinstein told reporters in Morag.

    Feinstein said the battery is set to be armed after the Poles have undergone basic training, however.

    "It's a concept of being able to walk before you run. So we're beginning this operation in the configuration we have today, but in the future the operation will of course include live missiles," he explained.

    Warsaw and Washington struck the Patriot deal in 2008 amid related talks on a US plan to install a controversial anti-missile shield in Poland and the neighbouring Czech Republic.

    In September 2009 US President Barack Obama scrapped that shield project, which had been pushed by his predecessor George W. Bush.

    The shield plan had enraged Russia, which dubbed it a security menace on its doorstep, although Washington insisted the aim was to ward off a potential long-range missile threat from Iran.
     
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  3. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Russia_unhappy_with_US_missiles_in_Poland_999.html

    Russia unhappy with US missiles in Poland


    Russia on Wednesday criticized the United States' deployment of Patriot missiles in Poland, saying the move threatened to derail a thaw in ties with Warsaw as the two nations seek to put an end to years of mistrust.

    Since an air crash in Russia in April killed president Lech Kaczynski and scores of the Polish elite, ties between Moscow and Warsaw have experienced a renaissance with pledges of mutual assistance and cooperation.

    Despite the sudden improvement in ties, Polish and US officials unveiled on Wednesday the first battery of US surface-to-air Patriot-type missiles to be stationed on Polish soil, at a base just 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the Russian border.

    "This was a project which was inherited from the previous state of the Russian-Polish relations," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the State Duma, the lower house of Russian parliament.

    "And now that these relations look principally different, this deployment looks an obvious dissonance and I hope that Poland distinctly realizes this today," he said in televised remarks.

    Kosachev said he would raise the issue with his Polish colleagues when the foreign affairs committees of the two countries' parliaments meet for the first time Thursday.

    The Russian delegation is also to meet Poland's interim president Bronislaw Komorowski Friday, he said.

    "The Patriots in no way fit the current logic, the current spirit of the Russian-Polish relations which have a real chance of normalization."

    The move "significantly undermines the climate of trust which seems to be starting to emerge between Russia and the United States, Russia and NATO."

    A foreign ministry official, speaking on conditions of anonymity earlier in the day, expressed the same sentiment.

    "Such actions do not fit the current level of our ties, do not lead to the strengthening of stability in this region but on the contrary decrease trust and predictability," he told AFP.

    "It is unclear why such a region located in the immediate proximity to the Russian border has been found for the deployment and where, as far as we know, there are no objects of military infrastructure."

    The missiles will be stationed at a military base at Morag, which is just 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the border with Russia's Kaliningrad territory.

    "We have repeatedly raised the issue with the Americans and the Poles but have not received real answers to our questions."

    Up to 150 US troops based in Kaiserslautern, Germany, are to service the battery in Poland and train Polish soldiers to operate it.

    Washington says the missiles will serve to ward off a potential long-range missile threat from Iran.

    Russia and the United States have over past months sought to improve ties damaged under the previous US administration but Washington has also said its "reset" ties with Moscow will not hurt relations with east European allies like Poland.

    The Polish presidential jet crashed as it tried to land near Smolensk, western Russia ahead of a memorial
    ceremony in the nearby Katyn forest for thousands of Polish officers executed by the Soviet secret police in 1940.
     

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