Prime Minister Donald Tusk (R) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (L) during the signing of a security agreement between Poland and Ukraine, at the Chancellery in Warsaw, Poland, 08 July 2024. EPA-EFE/Rafal Guz


Poland mulls shooting down Russian missiles over Ukraine


A security agreement signed by Poland and Ukraine has laid out plans for Polish air defences to shoot down Russian missiles suspected of approaching Poland even when they are in Ukrainian air space. 

On July 8, Poland became the latest country to sign such a deal with Ukraine, pledging to maintain long-term support for Kyiv’s defence against Russian aggression. The US and Japan signed similar agreements in June.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk met in Warsaw in advance of the NATO summit starting on July 9 in Washington. The pair signed the security agreement which included measures on training a “Ukrainian legion” in Poland as well as bringing down Russian missiles and drones heading for Polish airspace. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is on a visit to Poland, during which he will also meet with President Andrzej Duda. Polish Prime Minister and Ukrainian President signed a security agreement between Poland and Ukraine. EPA-EFE/Rafal Guz POLAND OUT

Tusk outlined Poland’s support for using NATO equipment to “shoot down missiles flying towards Poland while still over Ukrainian territory” but added that should only be done with “the stamp of approval of the international community, preferably NATO”.

Zelensky pointed out that the new security deal included provisions aimed at introducing such measures.

Speaking after the meeting, Tusk praised Zelensky’s “perseverance and courage” and pledged that he “can always count on us in … the fight for a safe Ukraine and a safe Europe”.

“The heroic defence of Ukraine is also the defence of the entire free world,” said Tusk, standing alongside Zelensky.

“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is also an attack on Ukraine’s friends and neighbours… If this war ends badly, it would also end badly for Poland and the entire Western world.”

Tusk was adamant that the document was no mere gesture, and instead should be seen as evidence of concrete support.

“Every word in this document means something and these words will have practical consequences,” he said, pledging that Poland would “continue to persuade our allies to make the path towards joining both the EU and NATO as quick as possible for Ukraine”.

Zelensky responded by hailing the deal as “a very important agreement, a momentous agreement, an ambitious agreement that will greatly help us protect the lives of our citizens and counteract Russian evil”.

He noted that Poland had already made 44 transfers of military equipment to Ukraine, with several more due by the end of this year and added that talks had taken place regarding the further transfer of Polish military aircraft.

However, Tusk clarified that the agreement at this stage did not include any further transfer of MiG fighter aircraft, beyond the 10 jets which Poland has already delivered. The Polish PM said that any further transfer of MiG aircraft could only take place if NATO helped Poland to enhance the country’s air defences which are already coming under pressure as a result of increased Russian air activity.

Zelensky also revealed that the security agreement has “formalised the formation and training of the Ukrainian Legion, a new volunteer military unit, on Polish territory”. The Ukrainian president said that the new outfit “will be trained in Poland and equipped by our partners”.

Tusk called for the upcoming NATO summit to result in “concrete steps” regarding support for Ukraine, with air defence systems a particular priority.