What Is the S-300 Air Defense System Donated to Ukraine by Slovakia? – Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger confirmed last week that his country had sent its only S-300 air defense system to Ukraine, making Slovakia the first NATO country to send surface-to-air missile systems to help Ukrainian troops shoot down Russian aircraft and cruise missiles.
The move was also announced in a tweet by the Slovakian Prime Minister, who said that his country is committed to helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty.
“I would like to confirm that #Slovakia has provided #Ukraine with an air-defence system S-300,” Heger wrote. “#Ukrainian nation is #bravely defending its sovereign country and us too. It is our duty to help, not to stay put and be ignorant to the loss of human lives under #Russia’s aggression.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also issued a statement on Friday confirming that the United States will replace Slovakia’s S-300 air defense system with a new system with similar capabilities.
“At my direction, and at the invitation of Slovakia, U.S. European Command will reposition one Patriot missile system, manned by U.S. service members, to Slovakia,” Austin revealed in a statement. “Their deployment length has not yet been fixed, as we continue to consult with the Slovakian government about more permanent air defense solutions,” Austin added. Slovakia will be receiving a U.S. Patriot battery that was based in Germany and is being pre-positioned in Poland in anticipation of the transfer. Austin confirmed that the Patriot battery in Slovakia will be manned by U.S. troops.
The move has the effect of the United States gifting an advanced surface-to-air missile system to Ukraine, without directly providing such a large and significant weapon.
Here’s Why the S-300 Is So Significant
Not only does Slovakia’s decision to move its only air defense system to Ukraine mean Russia’s air force now has more to worry about, but the fact that the United States is replacing Slovakia’s air defense system with a U.S. Patriot battery system means that Russia cannot claim that the United States is escalating the conflict by providing Ukraine with increasingly powerful weapons and defense systems.
The S-300 is also a powerful air defense system, currently only used by three NATO countries – Greece, Bulgaria, and Slovakia.
Soviet-built, the S-300 family of air defense systems have been widely used by the Soviet Union and continue to be used by many former Soviet states. China was also once the biggest single substantial export client for the S-300PMU/SA-10 Grumble variant of the machine.
Fully automated with an option for manual operation, the air defense system allows users to operate the machine from as far away as 40km. It uses radar to strike targets with great accuracy and can be switched between active and passive target detection modes.
The system was first developed in 1978 and remains in use today. It is still considered to be one of the most effective anti-aircraft missile systems used anywhere and has been upgraded into many different variants over the decades. There are also now more advanced S-400 and S-500 systems as well.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.