Slovakia: NATO to Secure our Airspace before we Send MiG-29 and S-300 to UkrainiansUkraine | March 18, 2022, Friday // 11:07| views
Slovakia insists first on securing its airspace via NATO countries, and only then can it provide its MiG-29s and S-300 air defense systems to the Ukrainians. This was stated by the Slovak Minister of Defense Jaroslav Nad during the visit of his American counterpart Lloyd Austin to Bratislava.
“The possibility of donating our Russian airspace protection equipment to Ukraine is being intensively considered. In fact, only Russian companies can operate MiG-29 fighters and the S-300 air defense system. I wonder how to service it, modernize it, provide spare parts when the country that can do that is an aggressor, and any cooperation is impossible,” he said before the meeting with Austin. Slovakia also insists that its airspace’s security be provided first with the help of NATO countries, and only then can give its MiGs and S-300 to the Ukrainians, he added.
According to the head of the Ministry of Defense, Slovakia is coordinating its actions to protect Ukraine with both the European Union and the United States. According to Nad, in order to achieve NATO's capability goals, Slovakia needs to focus on ground forces and build a heavy mechanized brigade. “We also talked that we have really old Russian defense systems like the S-300 or the MiG-29 here,” Nad said, adding that he had discussed with his American counterpart that the country would no longer use Russian aircraft once F-16 fighters arrived from the United States. “This should happen in 2024,” the minister said.
Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin began his speech by mentioning a meeting scheduled today with President Zuzana Caputova and Prime Minister Eduard Heger. “We are ready together to help Ukraine so that it can protect its security from unprovoked invasions,” he said.
Austin thanked Slovakia for providing humanitarian aid to Ukrainian citizens.
Asked whether the United States could provide Slovakia with a replacement for the S-300 air defense system, which will be donated to Ukraine, Austin did not give a definite answer.
“What the Ukrainians have managed to achieve is that they have managed to prevent Russia from dominating the sky and they have done so through anti-missile systems. Our goal is to support them in this. We are in talks with a number of partners to provide them with the best possible resources. We will turn to a number of partners to see what needs to be done,” he said.
The US Secretary of Defense also commented on the war in Ukraine and Russia's devastating bombing of civilian targets.
“We call on Putin to put an end to these horrific acts. Because the victims are civilians, not soldiers,” Austin said at the end of the press conference, adding that civilians should not be attacked.
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