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Politics

Greece, Poland Push EU to Create Air Defense Shield Against Missiles

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and barrages of missile attacks have led Greece and Poland to request that the European Union create an air defense system for its 27 member states against possible attacks, including those by drones.

Without a military of its own, the EU has relied on what it calls the “soft power” of diplomacy, even against countries led by dictators. However, Poland, which borders Ukraine, has grown concerned about Russia’s strikes in that country and its own vulnerability.

“I sent a letter to the European Commission, together with (Greek) Prime Minister Mitsotakis, regarding a common European defense policy,” Tusk said during an interview with TVP Info, as reported by Reuters.

“There is already a very positive reaction from the European Commission to make anti-missile air defense a common task for Europe, because it involves a huge amount of money,” he added.

He also mentioned that European countries should cease competing while creating their air defense systems and instead start cooperating, including on joint investments in the defense industry, although reaching a consensus among the 27 countries, which is required, is almost impossible.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who is close to Mitsotakis and has vacationed with his family in Greece, said she would support the idea if she wins a second term as head of the EU.

Speaking during the European Broadcasting Union’s election coverage, von der Leyen endorsed “an air defense shield for all of Europe, like it was proposed by Mitsotakis and Tusk,” as reported by Euronews, although no cost estimates were given nor details on how it would work.

The proposed scheme would be designed to protect EU countries from incoming threats including aircraft, missiles, drones, and others. In 2022, Greece expressed interest in creating a similar system that could counter Turkish drones in the event of a conflict.

“Europe will be safe as long as the skies over it are safe,” the letter from Mitsotakis and Tusk stated, with countries looking at the success of Israel’s Iron Dome shield that has thwarted missiles from Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

“We must develop a highly capable air defense system that will act as a credible deterrent against all possible aggressors. It will act as a shield for our citizens and military forces, in case deterrence fails—thereby protecting all member states of the EU and all European citizens,” the letter added.

“Only a strong, united Europe that pursues a common defense policy… will be able to prevent war. We are preparing for war not because this war is going to happen, but so that it won’t happen,” Tusk concluded, without indicating who might attack the EU.

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