The US has confirmed plans to deploy a Patriot missile battery in Poland.
Poland originally made the deployment of a Patriot air defence battery a condition for the deployment of elements of the US missile defence system in its territory.
US officials have, however, confirmed that the deployment would go ahead independently of any plans to deploy long-range missile interceptors in the country by 2012 – a project which Russia vehemently opposes.
US State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that the US remained committed to installing the patriot battery.
“We’re committed to supporting Poland’s defence needs, including NATO interoperability,” said Kelly.
The Polish deputy defence minister Stanislaw Komorowski said pending the two countries reaching an agreement on the legal status of US forces in Poland, a battery of 96 Patriot surface-to-air missiles will be deployed in Poland before the end of 2009.
“Everything indicates that we will be able to conclude negotiations in July, leaving enough time for a Patriot battery and about 100 US soldiers to be deployed in Poland by the end of the year,” Komorowski said.
Despite funding cuts of $1.2bn and the cancellation of the Patriot PAC-3 missile programme run by Raytheon, US President Barack Obama has signalled his intention to move forward with the missile defence plan.
By Daniel Garrun.