Slovakia sends its air defense system to Ukraine

  • Slovakia is the first to donate an air defense system to Ukraine
  • Ukraine has appealed to the West to strengthen its defense capabilities
  • Slovakia replaces the S-300 system donated by the US Patriot

PRAGUE (Reuters) – Slovakia has donated the S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, Prime Minister Eduard Heeger said on Friday, a day after the United States said it, along with 30 other countries, was stepping up military aid to Kiev.

Ukraine has repeatedly appealed to Western countries for air defense weapons and heavy ground military equipment to help fend off a Russian military offensive now in its second month.

“I can confirm that Slovakia has donated the S-300 air defense system to Ukraine at its request for assistance in self-defense due to armed aggression from the Russian Federation,” Heger said in an emailed statement.

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NATO member Slovakia operates a single battery of the Soviet S-300 air defense system, which it inherited after the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Heger, who was visiting Kyiv on Friday, said Slovakia’s defense was guaranteed.

The Slovakian donation is the first known case of a country sending an air defense system to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

In March, NATO allies Germany and the Netherlands brought three batteries of the Patriot air defense system to Slovakia, which Bratislava said at the time would complement, rather than replace, the S-300, and that it would consider abandoning the S-300 if it obtained a replacement. Read more

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Heger said Slovakia would receive additional equipment from NATO allies to offset the donation. Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad later announced that Slovakia would receive the Patriot IV system from the United States next week.

Russia has said it considers Western military shipments to Ukraine to be legitimate targets. Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation” to disarm and “discredit” Ukraine. Ukraine and its allies say Russia invaded without provocation.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Thursday that the United States and 30 other countries are sending weapons to Ukraine and that the process will intensify. He spoke of “new systems” that NATO allies have not yet introduced, but declined to go into details. Read more

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba requested aircraft, land-based anti-ship missiles, armored vehicles and air defense systems at a special session at NATO headquarters on Thursday. Read more

Slovakia had planned to modernize the S-300 several years ago, but the effort was incomplete. The Slovak army’s website said the S-300 has a range of 75 km and can hit targets up to 27 km above the ground.

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(Reporting by Robert Mueller) Editing by Jason Neely and Raisa Kasulowski

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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