First US Patriot missile battery unveiled in Poland
Morag: Polish and US officials
unveiled today the first battery of US surface-to-air
Patriot-type missiles to be stationed on Polish soil, a move
that has vexed Poland`s communist-era master Russia.
"We regard the deployment of the Patriot system in Poland
as an important step increasing our national security and in
developing strategic cooperation with the United States,"
Polish Defence Minister Bogdan Klich said.
He was speaking at ceremonies at a Polish military base
in the north-eastern town of Morag, just 60 kilometres (40
miles) from the border with Russia`s Kaliningrad territory.
"This is not just about the equipment because this one
battery is not the be-all and end-all. This is about people --
that American soldiers who will service the battery are
standing on Polish soil," Klich added.
The Patriots, designed to intercept incoming
surface-to-surface missiles, and some 150 US troops due to
service them, arrived in Morag on Sunday.
A US embassy spokesman told AFP the first rotation of
Patriots is unarmed.
"There are not live missiles in this first rotation. Live
missiles will be included in future rotations," US embassy
spokesman Andrew Paul told AFP in a telephone interview.
Regardless, Russia today slammed the US decision to
deploy the Patriot in Poland, saying the move jeopardised
bilateral relations and security in the region.
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