BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will end the deployment of three Patriot anti-aircraft units in Poland after almost a year, the defense ministry in Berlin said on Wednesday, confirming earlier plans.
Along with the Patriot systems, around 300 German soldiers have also been stationed in the Polish town of Zamosc, about 50 km (31 miles) from the Ukrainian border, since the beginning of the year to protect the southern town and its important rail link with Ukraine.
The operation was triggered by a stray Ukrainian missile that hit the Polish village of Przewodow in the region last November, sparking fears that the war in Ukraine could spread across the border.
The German ministry said in August that the deployment was unlikely to extend beyond the end of this year because the Patriots were either needed for use by NATO’s rapid reaction force in 2024 or needed to undergo maintenance.
The German soldiers would complete their operations on Friday and begin redeployment next week, the ministry said.
“I am very pleased about the friendly and appreciative reception that our soldiers in Zamosc received from the Polish military and the people living there,” said Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius.
Relations between Germany and Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party have been strained over a range of issues – from arms sales to Kiev to an EU migration deal rejected by Warsaw.
Poland appears to be heading toward a change of government following an October 15 election in which PiS won the most seats in the lower house of parliament but failed to achieve a majority. All other parties have ruled out a coalition with her.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Gareth Jones)