Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden said on Friday that the United States would place a Patriot missile defense system in Slovakia after that country provided Ukraine with a Russian-made S-300 air defense system.
Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger said earlier today that his country had sent an S-300 mobile anti-aircraft system to Ukraine (which already has a stockpile of such systems but has lost a number of them over the course of the war). Slovakia had previously announced that it would ship S-300 systems to Ukraine, on the condition that its NATO allies fill them with other weapons.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the missile defense system will be manned by US military personnel, with the battery and crew expected to arrive in Slovakia “in the coming days”. Their deployment duration is not yet fixed, he added, as the United States continues to consult with the Slovak government on more permanent air defense solutions.
“This deployment of Patriot capabilities to Slovakia aligns perfectly with our previous efforts to strengthen NATO’s defensive capabilities and to demonstrate our collective security requirements under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty,” said he declared. “It complements NATO’s multinational battlegroup in eastern Slovakia, which includes air defense elements from Germany and the Netherlands.”
And, he said, it is proof that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions have in fact caused the very strengthening of the alliance that he sought to prevent.
Biden thanked the Slovak government for its actions and said the United States would give him a US Patriot missile system “to enable this transfer and ensure Slovakia’s continued security.”
He added that while the Russian military may have failed to capture kyiv, they continue to “inflict horrific acts of brutality” on the Ukrainian people.
“As the Russian military repositions itself for the next phase of this war, I have directed my administration to continue to spare no effort to identify and provide the Ukrainian military with the advanced weaponry capabilities it needs. to defend his country,” Biden said.
This story originally appeared in the morning edition live blog.