U.S. to place Patriot missile defense system in Slovakia to help with Ukraine swap
President Biden said on Friday that the United States would place a Patriot missile defense system in Slovakia after that country provided a Russian-made S-300 air defense system to Ukraine.
Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger said earlier in the day that his country had sent an S-300 mobile anti-aircraft system to Ukraine (which has an existing supply of such systems but lost a number of them in the course of the war). Slovakia previously said it would ship S-300 systems to Ukraine, provided its NATO allies would backfill them with other weapons.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the missile defense system will be manned by U.S. service members, with both battery and crew expected to arrive in Slovakia "in coming days." Their deployment length is not yet fixed, he added, as the U.S. continues to consult with the Slovakian government about more permanent air defense solutions.
"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. "It complements the NATO multinational battlegroup in eastern Slovakia, which includes air defense elements from Germany and the Netherlands."
And, he said, it's proof that Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions have actually brought about the very strengthening of the alliance that he sought to prevent.
Biden thanked the Slovakian government for its actions and said the U.S. will give it a U.S. Patriot missile system "to enable this transfer and ensure the continued security of Slovakia."
He added that while the Russian military may have failed to capture Kyiv, it continues to "inflict horrific acts of brutality" on the Ukrainian people.
"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.
This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog. Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.