US to send Patriot system to Slovakia to offset S-300 transfer to Ukraine
President Biden confirmed Friday that Slovakia transferred a Soviet-era S-300 air defense system to Ukraine and said that the U.S. would reposition an American Patriot missile system to Slovakia in return.
“I want to thank the Slovakian government for providing an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, something [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy has personally raised with me in our conversations,” Biden said in a statement on Friday. “To enable this transfer and ensure the continued security of Slovakia, the United States will reposition a U.S. Patriot missile system to Slovakia.”
Biden further warned against “complacency” in the international effort to push back against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As the Russian military repositions for the next phase of this war, 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 to defend its country,” Biden said.
Slovakia’s prime minister said earlier Friday that the country had transferred the Soviet-era missile defense system to Ukraine in order to help the country defend against Russian strikes.
When Zelensky addressed Congress in a powerful virtual address last month, he pleaded for the U.S. and other European countries to either impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine or deliver S-300 air defense systems to repel Russian strikes.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the U.S. European Command would reposition the Patriot missile system to Slovakia “in coming days.”
“Their deployment length has not yet been fixed, as we continue to consult with the Slovakian government about more permanent air defense solutions,” Austin said in a statement.
“This deployment of Patriot capabilities to Slovakia aligns perfectly with our previous efforts to bolster NATO’s defensive capabilities and to demonstrate our collective security requirements under Article 5 of the NATO treaty,” he said.
News of the S-300 delivery to Ukraine came as a Russian strike was reported to have killed dozens of civilians at a train station in Ukraine, the latest Russian attack on civilians.
Biden earlier this week imposed fresh sanctions on Russian banks and individuals, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughters, to punish Moscow for acts the U.S. has described as war crimes.