Patriot air defence systems have arrived in Slovakia, and talks continue about a permanent deal that would open the way for a shipment of the old Soviet S-300 system to Ukraine.
Sophisticated American air defence systems MIM-104 Patriot arrived in Slovakia early on Sunday. They will be stationed on the airbase Sliač in central Slovakia and will be operated by Dutch and German soldiers. According to Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO), this is where they will be most effective in providing a defensive umbrella above Slovak skies.
“The Patriot system is not a replacement for the old Russian S-300 system, but it is another element in the defence of the airspace of the Slovak Republic,” said Naď.
The Slovak coalition has reached a “preliminary agreement” on providing Ukraine with the S-300 defence system, which would dramatically help Ukraine with air defence against Russia. However, Slovakia will only do so if it gets an “adequate replacement”.
Ukraine demands the S-300 system and the ammunition from NATO members because it owns several of them and Ukrainian soldiers can, therefore, start to use them immediately. The only NATO member states which own these systems are Slovakia, Bulgaria and Greece.
The question now stands whether the US will give Slovakia Patriot systems for its own protection, so Slovakia can subsequently ship S-300 to Ukraine.
Patriots are costly, however, as a single battery costs approximately $1 billion. The US is said to be evaluating if it would be more effective to send Ukrainians military aid instead of giving it to Slovakia.
The Patriot system is significantly more sophisticated and efficient than the S-300. It can also destroy short-range Iskander ballistic missiles, which the Russian army also used in Ukraine.