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Slovakia gives S-300 air defense system to Ukraine: Prime minister

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Slovakia has donated its S-300 air defense system to Ukraine to help it defend against Russia’s aggression, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on Friday.

Ukraine has appealed to Western nations for air defense equipment to help repel a Russian military onslaught now in its second month.

“I can confirm that Slovakia donated the S-300 air defense system to Ukraine based on its request to help in self defense due to armed aggression from the Russian Federation,” Heger said in an emailed statement.

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Heger, who was visiting Kyiv on Friday, also said that Slovakia’s own defense was secured.

NATO member Slovakia has been operating one battery of the S-300 air defense system which it inherited after the break-up of Czechoslovakia in 1993.

The Slovak donation is the first known case of a country sending an air defense system to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion on February 24.

In March, NATO allies Germany and Netherlands brought three batteries of the Patriot air defense system to Slovakia, which Bratislava said at the time would complement, rather than replace, the S-300, and thatit would consider giving up the S-300 if it secured a replacement.

Heger said Slovakia would receive additional equipment from NATO allies to make up for the donation.

Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad subsequently announced that Slovakia would receive the fourth Patriot system from the United States next week.

Russia has said that it considered western military shipments to Ukraine legitimate targets. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm and “de-nazify” Ukraine. Ukraine and allies say Russia invaded without provocation.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday the United States and 30 other countries were sending weapons to Ukraine and that the process would intensify. He spoke of “new systems” that have so far not been provided by NATO allies, but declined to go into details.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba asked for planes, land-based anti-ship missiles, armored vehicles and air defense systems at a special session at NATO headquarters on Thursday.

Slovakia had planned to modernize its S-300 several years ago but the effort had not been completed. The Slovak army website said the S-300 battery had range of 75 kilometers and could strike targets up to 27 kilometers above ground.

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