Pressure on Greece and Spain mounts from EU, NATO to supply Ukraine with air defense systems – FT

Air defense
Air defense

Greece and Spain are under intense pressure from their EU and NATO allies to provide Ukraine with additional air defense systems, the Financial Times reported on April 22, citing sources.

Kyiv urgently appealed to Western allies in April to provide seven additional air defense systems. However, only Germany announced the supply of an additional Patriot system.

Other EU leaders used the summit in Brussels to personally urge Prime Ministers Pedro Sanchez and Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Spain and Greece to transfer some of their systems to Ukraine, FT notes.

The two leaders, whose armed forces have more than a dozen Patriot systems, were told that their needs are not as great as Ukraine's and that they face no immediate threat.

Read also: European leaders stress need for sustained aid to Ukraine post U.S. vote

"We all know who has them, we all know where they are, and we all know who really needs them," said one of the sources.

Poland and Romania, which also have Patriots, are under less pressure to consider supplying Kyiv, said officials. This is because both countries are more vulnerable on the border with Ukraine.

Pressure to provide air defense systems will intensify at a meeting of foreign and defense ministers from all 27 EU member states in Luxembourg, officials say. Kyiv is particularly interested in the outdated Greek S-300 systems, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces already know how to operate, FT writes.

"There are countries that are not in an immediate need of their air defence systems, to be very honest," said an unnamed EU diplomat involved in preparing the meeting.

“Each country is being asked to decide what it can spare.”

The Greek and Spanish defense ministries declined to provide comments to the newspaper.

Additional air defense systems for Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on April 3 that Western partners do not want to give Ukraine "five or seven" Patriots, although they have more than 100.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on April 6 that 25 Patriot systems or their equivalents are needed to fully protect Ukraine's airspace from Russian attacks.

Kuleba said on April 12 that Ukraine is currently in active negotiations with its allies to supply two Patriot batteries and one SAMP-T. The Foreign Ministry also argued that Russia would not have destroyed the Trypillia Thermal Power Plant if Ukraine had a sufficient number of Patriot systems.

Zelenskyy also commented on the strike on Chernihiv on April 17 that killed 18 people and said that "this would not have happened if Ukraine had received enough air defense systems."

EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said on April 18 at a meeting of G7 foreign ministers that EU countries should send their air defense systems to strengthen Ukraine's air defense.

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Helmut Rauch, head of Diehl Defence, the arms company that produces the IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft missile system, said on April 18 that Ukraine would receive the new system "in the next few weeks."

At a meeting in Italy on April 19, G7 foreign ministers pledge to help Ukraine strengthen its air defenses.

The lower chamber of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives, adopted a bill providing over $60 billion in support for Ukraine on the evening of April 20.

The bill will be considered by the U.S. Senate on April 23, after which it will be signed by President Joe Biden.

Read also: Kuleba proposes using Polish Patriot missiles to defend Ukraine’s border

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