The battery includes missiles and launching stations, a radar set that detects and tracks targets, and an engagement control station, according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.
The US, seeking to avoid direct involvement in Ukraine — which is not a member of NATO and therefore not subject to the pact’s collective defense agreement, in which an attack on one aligned nation is considered an attack on all — has repeatedly stressed that the deployment is only for defensive purposes.
“This defensive deployment is being conducted proactively to counter any potential threat to U.S. and Allied forces and NATO territory,” Capt. Adam Miller, spokesman for US European Command, said in a statement Tuesday. “This is a prudent force protection measure that underpins our commitment to Article Five and will in no way support any offensive operations.”
The Pentagon’s deployment of the Patriot missiles to Poland “wasn’t precipitated by one single moment or one single issue or one single act by the Russians,” US Defense Department press secretary John Kirby said on Wednesday.
The Patriot missiles had been moved from Germany for what Kirby described as a “temporary deployment.”
Retired US Army Gen. Wesley Clark, a former NATO commander, called the deployment of the two batteries “prudent” and said the Patriot system would be able to intercept many of the missiles Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed in Russia and Belarus, which borders Poland.
“So if there were to be a launch in some provocative way by Mr. Putin to attempt to intimidate us, these missiles have a very good probability of intercepting a Russian missile,” Clark, now a CNN military analyst, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
He added that the deployment of the equipment “gives reassurance to the Poles. It also tells Putin that he’s not going to be necessarily so successful in trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons.”