The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Eduard Heger, said that the country had transferred the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Ukraine.
“This is a responsible decision by which the Slovak Republic, as a country that supports peace, freedom and the protection of human rights, provides assistance in the form of a purely defensive system to Ukraine and its innocent citizens, and we believe that this system will help save as much as possible more innocent Ukrainians from further aggression by the Putin regime,” the local TV channel Noviny quoted the politician.
At the same time, the head of government stressed that the donation of air defense systems does not mean that Slovakia has become part of the armed conflict in Ukraine.
According to the news source, the S-300 complex is already on the territory of Ukraine, and its transportation took two days and in secrecy.
The Ministry of Defense confirmed that the Slovak Republic, following a request from Ukraine for assistance in implementing self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter, as a direct result of armed aggression by the Russian Federation, donated the S-300 air defense system to Ukraine.
The Minister of Defense Jaroslav Naď stated on the social network that the protection and defense of Slovakia are fully ensured. He claimed that the donation of the system didn’t mean that the the country had become part of the armed conflict in Ukraine. He said that the defense of the Slovak Republic is still secured, and in the coming days, it will be strengthened by the fourth battery of the Patriot system, which will cover the entire territory of Slovakia. The system should arrive within the next week and stay in Slovak territory for as long as necessary, he wrote.
The fourth Patriot battery, to be provided by U.S allies, is due to arrive next week, wrote the Slovak Minister. All batteries will be gradually distributed to cover the territory of Slovakia and will be there as long as necessary.
On receiving Patriot systems, the Minister said that donating the Soviet-made S-300 system which has “minimal serviceability and ending technical life, this is great news for Slovakia and at the same time a great help for Ukraine.”
Opposition blasts the government
HLAS -SD representative said that the media coverage of the transfer of the S-300 air defense system to Ukraine is a threat to Slovakia’s defenses and a fraud of the current government on its citizens.
“The Minister of Defense Naď emphasized that the S-300 will be decommissioned by the Slovak Armed Forces only if an adequate replacement is provided for it. This promise has not yet been fulfilled, and Minister Naď himself recently spoke about a time horizon of several months to years. It is clear that the Patriots deployed so far do not fully replace the S-300 system. We call on Minister Naďa to explain this nonsensical step leading to a reduction in the level of combat readiness of the Slovak Armed Forces,” said spokeswoman Patrícia Medveď Macíková in response.
The chairman of Smer-SD, Robert Fico, said that with this step, President Zuzana Čaputová and the Prime Minister of Slovakia were drawn into the war. “Donating the multimillion-dollar S-300 air defense system to Ukraine is a war act with unforeseeable consequences for Slovakia. Smer-SD will file a motion to dismiss the government,” he said in a video on the social network.
Earlier Fico had called the move “pure madness”.
“Not only would we get rid of a multimillion-dollar protection system that is better than the American Patriot. But we would be more and more involved in the war in Ukraine, in the name of American interests, with which we have nothing,” he said.
Robert Fico said that the system protected Slovak nuclear power plants and industrial centres. He said that the S-300 system is more powerful and accurate than the Patriot system. “Čaputová and Heger donated the only system in Slovak ownership to Ukraine, and as an alternative, they accept induced American Patriots which are neither in our possession nor can we use them,” Fico said.
As per Fico, the S-300 system is able to hit up to six targets at a great distance. “Whether it is planes, missiles or drones. It will be used in the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, which means that Slovakia will be an extremely effective weapon involved in this conflict,” Fico said, adding that Slovakia’s interests were not being pursued.