14:40 GMT29 May 2020
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    Warsaw's planned agreement to buy eight US Patriot anti-ballistic missile batteries will become one of the most significant military deals in Poland's modern history, a move that will indicate the point of no return in the country's defense policy, according to RT.

    Late last week, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said that Poland will sign a 7.5-billion dollar agreement on the purchase of eight US Patriot surface-to-air missile systems before the end of this year.

    He added that the first of the eight systems, which are equipped with a built-in Integrated Battle Command System, are due to arrive in Poland two years after the contract is signed.

    The Patriots are expected to become part of the country's "Shield of Poland" missile defense system, according to RT.

    The Patriot missile defense system is capable of countering threats from tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, drones and advanced aircraft.

    RT specifically pointed to Poland's desire to purchase the Patriot's most advanced version, the MIM-104, touted as one of the best missile defense systems in the world.

    According to RT, in the next two years Poland will become the 11th state to acquire the MIM-104 Patriot system, which is currently in service in the armies of Taiwan, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Spain.

    "The purchase of the Patriot systems will be a symbolic point of no return in Poland's defense policy. Technically, the missile defense systems remain, perhaps, the most sophisticated weapons, which requires significant sums for personnel training and maintenance. For example, the average cost of a Patriot missile stands at three million dollars," RT said.

    It added that Russophobia remains the main factor determining Poland's defense policy amid Polish generals' allegations about Russia's planned intervention in Poland from the Kaliningrad region or from Belarus and Ukraine after a stage of "pre-occupation."

    Speaking to RT, Russian military expert Vadim Kozyulin said that Poland's purchase of the US Patriot systems and Warsaw's desire to increase its military power will have far-reaching political consequences without damaging Russian security.

    "Warsaw's military plans will undoubtedly exacerbate the already tense ties between Russia and NATO. I think Poland's immediate neighbors and Western partners have had enough of Warsaw's overly aggressive policy. Poland has turned into an uncontrollable irritant of relations with Moscow, which is not always convenient for the West," Kozyulin said.

    In his opinion, Warsaw really had many reasons for concern for its national security, but with the collapse of the socialist camp in the 1990s, the situation changed drastically.

    "Even though currently no one is going to threaten the Poles, their historical complexes and phobias are still in place in their heads," he said.

    He drew attention to the selective nature of Warsaw's fears, wondering "why Poland is not afraid of Germany, which many times attacked it and which Poland constantly [ceded] land."

    "I believe that this hysteria about Russia is further complicated by the great-power ambitions of the Polish elite, which in turn draw criticism from Germany and Europe as a whole," Kozyulin said.

    In an interview with Sputnik Poland, former Polish MP Mariusz Olszewski remained downbeat about Poland's drive to purchase the Patriot missile systems.

    He said that the main question is whether Poland really needs such systems and that the Polish Defense Minister's statement could be a deliberate information leak ahead of his meeting with the Polish President "in order to smooth out the bad impression that the President had about him."

    "All this is nothing but empty words about intentions because no one signed any contracts. Let me remind you of his [the Polish Defense Minister's] earlier statements on buying [foreign] helicopters and modernizing the Polish Army, something that was never followed by concrete actions. As for the Patriot system, it is already obsolete and should be significantly modernized," Olszewski said.


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