Poland to shoot down Russian missiles – Zelensky

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Warsaw says the details of the new security pact with Kiev need to be cleared with NATO partners

A newly signed pact between Warsaw and Kiev contains provisions that would allow Poland to shoot down Russian missiles and drones in Ukrainian airspace, Vladimir Zelensky has said.

Zelensky spoke in Warsaw on Monday, after signing the security deal with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. The government in Kiev has been making bilateral pacts with NATO member states over the past several months, in lieu of formally joining the US-led bloc.

The agreement “provides for the development of a mechanism [for Poland] to shoot down Russian missiles and drones fired in the airspace of Ukraine in the direction of Poland,” Zelensky said, according to Ukrainian media.

He added that Warsaw and Kiev “will work together to work out how we can quickly implement this point” of the deal.

Tusk confirmed the existence of the provision but said it merely “indicates the need for talks on this matter,” according to Polish media.

“We need clear cooperation within NATO here, because such actions require joint NATO responsibility,” the Polish PM added, explaining that it would be in the interest of both Poland and Ukraine to get a “stamp” of international solidarity first.

“We will include other NATO allies in this conversation. So we treat the matter seriously as open, but not yet finalized,” Tusk said, according to Poland’s RMF24 Radio.

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NATO won’t give Zelensky what he wants – AFP

Zelensky has been asking NATO to shoot down incoming Russian missiles for several months already. He has compared it to what the US and UK did for Israel in mid-April, during an Iranian reprisal bombardment, and argued that it would not directly involve the bloc in the conflict. 

“NATO will not become part of the conflict,” the bloc’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, replied at the time. “There are no plans to send NATO troops to Ukraine or to extend NATO’s air-defense shield to Ukraine,” he added.

While US and EU officials shot down Zelensky’s comparison with Israel, they agreed to other things he asked for, from additional Patriot missile launchers and rockets to permitting Ukraine to use the weapons they supplied to strike deep into Russian territory.

During his visit to Warsaw, Zelensky also announced that Poland would raise, train and equip a ‘Ukrainian Legion’, made up of volunteers. “Every Ukrainian citizen who decides to join the legion will be able to sign a contract with the Ukrainian armed forces,” he added.

Tusk did not comment on the legion business, but said that every word in the security pact meant something and that it’s about “practical mutual commitments, not empty promises.”

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