Biden Sends Patriot Missiles To Slovakia As Replacement For Ukraine S-300 'Donation'

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Apr 08, 2022 - 07:09 PM

Update(1509ET): Following on the heels of NATO member Slovakia announcing it would transfer a sophisticated anti-air missile system to Ukraine, namely the Russian made S-300, the White House announced it would replace Slovakia's "donated" weapon system with a Patriot missile defense system.

Joe Biden in an afternoon statement said, "I have directed my administration to continue to spare no effort to identify and provide to the Ukrainian military the advanced weapons capabilities it needs."

Biden said further, "I want to thank the Slovakian government for providing an S-300 air defence system to Ukraine, something [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy has personally raised with me in our conversations."

"To enable this transfer and ensure the continued security of Slovakia, the United States will reposition a US Patriot missile system to Slovakia."

It's an interesting arrangement which allows nearby Eastern European countries to get heavier weapons systems to Kiev faster, also allowing the US to remain less immediately involved in the transfer, though Moscow is likely to be incensed and provoked regardless. Last month there were reports that Poland could provide MiG fighters to Ukraine, and get them replaced with US F-16s - but the plan was shot down by the Pentagon as premature.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin indicated the US-manned the Patriot battery should arrive in Slovakia within "the coming days". 

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In a hugely provocative announcement, Slovakia on Friday has said the NATO country has donated its S-300 air defense system to Ukraine to "help it defend against Russia's aggression," according to a statement from Prime Minister Eduard Heger.

The official Slovakia in NATO Twitter account also confirmed that it is "stepping up its support to Ukraine" by sending the "S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, so it can defend itself against ongoing Russian aggression. 

Slovakia's defense ministry even published video of what appears to be a mobile S-300 unit being readied and pulling out of a military base. So far it appears a single unit will be given to Ukrainian forces.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger had said his country "donated" its Soviet-era defense system to Ukraine. The announcement came as he visited the Ukrainian capital with top EU officials, just before a meeting with President Zelensky. 

And so it appears NATO is inching little by little toward a potential 'no fly zone' over Ukraine, given the S-300 is precisely the type of major equipment that would be needed. Russia's reaction will without doubt be fierce, given this initial somewhat symbolic first step toward that possible end.

The Associated Press is noting this comes in direct response to Zelensky urging the west to "close the skies" for Russian aircraft over Ukraine...

Zelenskyy mentioned S-300s by name when he spoke to U.S. lawmakers by video last month, appealing for defense systems that would allow Ukraine to “close the skies” to Russian warplanes and missiles.

The action also comes after foreign ministers of NATO met in Brussels Thursday where they reportedly agreed to give Ukraine "new and heavier weapons" - though without defining which precise weapons systems under consideration. 

Russia has vowed that it's ready to attack as "legitimate targets" any external weapons shipments intercepted from outside powers. S-300 transfers certainly bring NATO and Russia on a more direct collision course, and it's unclear the degree to which other NATO allies signed off on this provocative delivery.