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Air Force: Poland capable of protecting skies over western Ukraine but political will needed

by Martin Fornusek April 29, 2024 12:55 PM 2 min read
A German Patriot system on an open field on Feb. 18, 2023, in Zamosc, Poland. (Omar Marques/Getty Images)
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Poland is technically capable of protecting the skies over Ukraine's western regions with its air defenses, but this requires "political will," Air Force spokesperson Illia Yevlash said on April 29.

Russia's aerial attacks against western Ukraine have posed risks for neighboring Poland on several occasions. On April 27, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that one of the Russian projectiles fired at Lviv Oblast fell 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Polish border.

"Theoretically and technically, it is possible since Poland has long-range air defense systems, namely Patriots. However, this would require political will, and this is already a topic for our diplomatic services," Yevlash said on television.

According to the spokesperson, such a step would allow Ukraine's military to focus its air defense capabilities to counter Russia's tactical aviation and glide bomb raids at the front lines.

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Ukraine has a limited number of advanced Western air defense systems like Patriots, IRIS-T, or SAMP/T, which are crucial for protecting its population centers and infrastructure against regular Russian aerial strikes.

Kyiv has been leading talks with its partners to secure more of these systems not only to protect civilian targets but also to counter the Russian Air Force at the front. Glide bomb attacks have become a particularly serious problem for Ukrainian front-line troops.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Szejna said in March that NATO is considering shooting down Russian missiles heading toward the alliance's territory.

On Dec. 29, 2023, a missile entered Polish airspace, putting the country's defenses on high alert. In another incident on Nov. 15, 2022, a missile flew onto Polish territory during a Russian mass strike, killing two civilians. Polish investigators later concluded that it was a stray Ukrainian anti-air projectile launched to intercept the Russian attack.

Yermak: ‘I can tell you for sure – there will be more Patriots’
Speaking on national television, Andriy Yermak said Kyiv was “talking with many partners, primarily the U.S.” about securing more of the badly needed systems and referred to recent news of German efforts to convince Washington to send more.
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