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UKRAINE

Germany offers to aid Polish air patrols after rocket strike

Germany said Wednesday it could send its own warplanes to support patrols over Poland following a deadly rocket strike in a village close to the border with Ukraine.

Police cars in Przewodow
Police cars arrive in the Polish village of Przewodow, where an unexplained missile strike killed two people on Tuesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/AP | Evgeniy Maloletka

“As an immediate reaction to the incidents in Poland, we will offer to strengthen air policing with combat air patrols over its airspace with German Eurofighters,” defence ministry spokesman Christian Thiels said at a regular press conference.

“This can happen from tomorrow, if Poland so wishes,” Thiels said.

The sorties would be launched “from German airbases” without needing to relocate the jets to Poland, he said.

Such patrols take place in “specific airspaces”, which are “agreed exactly with the Polish side”, Thiels said.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht would seek to speak to her Polish counterpart on the matter today, he added.

Officials are racing to clarify the circumstances of the missile strike near the Polish village of Przewodow near the Ukrainian border, which occurred on Tuesday afternoon, killing two farm workers.

Ambassadors from members of the NATO military alliance went into emergency talks in Brussels after Poland put its military on high alert in the wake of the blast and summoned Russia’s ambassador.

“Based on the preliminary information available, the strikes are most likely a result of Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems that were engaged to take Russian missiles out of the sky,” Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder said in a statement.

US President Joe Biden had said it was “unlikely” the missile came from Russia, and the Kremlin said it had “nothing to do with” it.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier on Wednesday warned against any “hasty conclusions” about the incident.

Scholz stressed it was important to “make clear that this would not have happened without the Russian war against Ukraine”.

READ ALSO: Germany and Spain to train Ukraine troops under EU programme

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UKRAINE

Germany won’t send fighter jets to Ukraine, says Scholz

Germany will not send fighter jets to Ukraine, as Kyiv steps up calls for more advanced weapons from the West to help repel Russia's invasion.

Germany won't send fighter jets to Ukraine, says Scholz

Scholz only just agreed on Wednesday to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and to allow other European countries to send theirs, after weeks of intense debate and mounting pressure from allies.

“I can only advise against entering into a constant bidding war when it comes to weapons systems,” Scholz said in an interview with the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

“If, as soon as a decision (on tanks) has been made, the next debate starts in Germany, that doesn’t come across as serious and undermines citizens’ confidence in government decisions.”

Scholz’s decision to green-light the tanks was accompanied by a US announcement that it would send 31 of its Abrams tanks.

PODCAST: How Germany changed its mind on tanks and why people are waiting years for citizenship

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Berlin and Washington for the move, seen as a breakthrough in efforts to support the war-torn country.

But Zelensky immediately stressed that Ukraine needed more heavy weapons from NATO allies to fend off Russian troops — including fighter jets and long-range missiles.

Scholz in the interview warned against raising “the risk of escalation”, with Moscow already sharply condemning the tank pledges.

“There is no war between NATO and Russia. We will not allow such an escalation,” he said.

The chancellor added that it was “necessary” to continue speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The last phone call between the leaders was in early December.

“I will talk to Putin by phone again,” Scholz said.

“But of course it’s also clear that as long as Russia continues to wage war with unabated aggression, the current situation will not change.”

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