Poland to speed up defense plans in light of Russian-Ukrainian conflict
March 24, 2014
Poland's Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak
Poland has decided to accelerate its effort to acquire a new missile defense system in face of conflict escalation between neighboring Ukraine and Russia, Polish defense ministry said.
"The issues related with Poland's air defense will be accelerated," defense ministry spokesman Jacek Sonta said. "Poland plans to choose the best offer for its missile defense in the next few weeks."
The ministry had planned to determine the supplier of its missile defense system in 2015, but officials decided to speed up the timetable because of the Ukrainian crisis.
There are four bidders: France's Thales, in a consortium with European group MBDA and the Polish state defense group; the Israeli government; Raytheon of the United States; and the MEADS consortium led by Lockheed Martin.
The first phase of the Polish system, which is to comprise eight sets of mid-range interceptor rockets, is separate from elements of a U.S. missile shield to be deployed in Poland by 2018.
On Saturday, the Polish defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak told RMF FM radio broadcaster that The US should increase its military presence in Poland and in other NATO members in central and eastern Europe given the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
“The US must increase its presence in central and eastern Europe, also in Poland,” Siemoniak said. “We will be talking about the details and I am happy that representatives of the US, the US vice-president are open towards these talks.”
During the recent visit of US vice-president Joe Biden to Warsaw “there was a clear signal from our side that we expect a larger military presence of the US and that this eastern flank of NATO must be strengthened,” Siemoniak said.
On Friday, Poland's army top official Lieutenant-Colonel Janusz Lojko said that some 7,000 reserve troops will be trained this year but denied that the training has something to do with the Ukrainian crisis.