Greek PM reveals stance on providing air defense systems to Ukraine

Greece cannot part with air defense systems that are crucial for its deterrence capabilities, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said.

Athens will not supply Kiev with US-made Patriot or Soviet-designed S-300 air defense systems, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said. Local media reported earlier this week that the country might provide Kiev with at least one Patriot system, following pressure from the EU and NATO on member states to increase support for Ukraine’s government as it experiences a shortage of air defense systems and munitions.

However, during an interview with outlet Iefimerida on Wednesday, Mitsotakis made it clear that the delivery is not going to happen. “Greece will not send either S-300[s] nor Patriot[s] to Ukraine,” he said. “We have said from the start that we cannot provide weapons systems that are critical to our deterrence capability,” the prime minister explained. Athens has supported Kiev “in various ways,” including by providing weapons, during the conflict with Russia and will continue to do so if it finds “surplus material,” he promised. But the air defenses in question “are critical systems for the protection of Greek airspace and cannot be ceded to Ukraine,” he reiterated. Together with Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Spain, Greece is among six European nations that operate the Patriot systems.

While Berlin has promised to supply another Patriot to Ukraine, Poland said earlier this week that it has no air defense systems to spare. Spanish daily El Pais reported on Friday that Madrid will only provide air defense missiles to Kiev, but not the Patriot systems. In late March, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that at least five Patriots operated by Kiev’s forces have been destroyed by the Russian military since the start of the year. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday that the decline in deliveries of Western aid in recent months has left Ukrainian troops “outgunned, allowing Russia to push forward on the front line.” “Ukraine has lacked air defense, enabling more Russian missiles and drones to hit their targets,” he said. However, the NATO chief claimed that “it is not too late for Ukraine to prevail because more support is on the way.”

Russia has repeatedly warned that the deliveries of foreign weapons systems to Kiev will not prevent Moscow from achieving its military goals, but will merely prolong the fighting and could increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and NATO. According to officials in Moscow, the provision of arms, the sharing of intelligence, and the training of Ukrainian troops means that Western nations have already become de-facto parties to the conflict.