Slovakia begins deploying Patriot air defense system: Minister

Prague-Slovakia’s air defense system is beginning to arrive in Slovakia from NATO’s partner countries, and deployment will continue for the next few days, the Slovak defense minister said on Sunday.

Operated by German and Dutch forces, the system will initially be deployed at Slia─Ź Airport in central Slovakia to help strengthen NATO’s eastern defenses.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine urged the alliance to strengthen its defenses.

The Patriot system will be part of a new NATO battlegroup in Slovakia adjacent to Ukraine.

“I’m happy to see that the first unit responsible for deploying the Patriot air defense system is gradually arriving in Slovakia,” Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Facebook.

Nad said the Patriot system is complementary and does not replace the Soviet-era S-300 system operated by Slovakia.

“Temporarily, the system has been deployed at the Slovak Air Force Base and further deployment areas are being considered … so that the security umbrella covers the largest possible part of the Slovak territory,” Nad said.

The minister said last week that he was ready to offer the S-300 to Ukraine if Slovakia obtained the appropriate replacement.

He reiterated on Sunday that Slovakia was looking for its own alternative to the S-300 because of its age, ability, and dependence on Russia.

Russia warned against advanced air defense shipments to Ukraine and could target western arms supplies.