Slovakia sends its air defence system to Ukraine

  • Slovakia first to donate air defense system to Ukraine
  • Ukraine has appealed to West to boost its defense capabilities
  • Slovakia to replace donated S-300 system by Patriot from US

PRAGUE, April 8 (Reuters) – Slovakia has donated its S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on Friday, a day after the United States said it and 30 other countries were stepping up military aid to Kyiv.

Ukraine has repeatedly appealed to Western nations for air defense weaponry and heavy ground military equipment to help repel a Russian military onslaught now in its second month.

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

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NATO member Slovakia has been operating one battery of the Soviet-designed S-300 air defense system which it inherited after the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Heger, who was visiting Kyiv on Friday, also said that Slovakia’s own defense was secured.

The Slovak donation is the first known case of a country sending an air defense system to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

In March, NATO allies Germany and 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 giving up the S-300 if it secured a replacement. read more

Heger said Slovakia would receive additional equipment from NATO allies to make up for the donation. Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad subsequently announced that Slovakia would receive the fourth Patriot system from the United States next week.

Russia has said that it considered western military shipments to Ukraine legitimate targets. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and allies say Russia invaded without provocation.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday the United States and 30 other countries were sending weapons to Ukraine and that the process would intensify. He spoke of “new systems” that have so far not been provided by NATO allies, but declined to go into details. read more

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asked for planes, 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 its S-300 several years ago but the effort had not been completed. The Slovak army website said the S-300 battery had range of 75 km and could strike targets up to 27 km above ground.

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Reporting by Robert Muller; Editing by Jason Neely and Raissa Kasolowsky

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