Greece Looks to Supply Ukraine with its S-300 Air Defense Systems: Russia issued a warning to NATO member Greece that any potential delivery of the Soviet-designed S-300 missile defense system to Ukraine would be seen as “a very provocative move.”
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A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry even suggested that the Kremlin would seek to locate any and all of the anti-aircraft weapons.
“We consider plans to supply the Kyiv regime with S-300s or other Russian/Soviet air defense systems that will be used against Russia very provocative,” Maria Zakharova, foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters.
“The Greek authorities recently underlined their readiness to supply Ukraine with the S-300 PMU1 missile defense system, on condition of receiving American Patriot missile defense systems to replace them,” she added. “There is a complete indifference by Greece on the international limitations on arms trading.”
Greek Aid to Ukraine
The Russian threat following unconfirmed reports that Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos pledged to provide the S-300 system that is currently stored in Crete to Ukraine. In exchange, Athens was to receive a U.S.-made Patriot air-defense system.
“If the U.S. deploys a Patriot system on Crete, then after it is integrated into the national air defense system, the S-300s can be removed,” Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said during an address on Monday, adding, “the same procedure applies to any other Russian air defense system that they (the US) would like to send to Ukraine.”
Greece could also send Tor-M1 and Osa-AKM – two other Soviet-designed air-defense systems – to Ukraine if adequate U.S.-made replacements could be made to Athens. If those platforms do go to Ukraine, and a U.S. Patriot is deployed to Crete, it wouldn’t be under Greek command.
“We are talking about deployment, not purchase, which means the Patriot system will be under the control of the U.S. military,” Panagiotopoulos explained.
Even as Kyiv is set to receive its own PAC-3 Patriot missile battery, the Greek S-300 would still be welcome as Ukraine’s military has plenty of experience with the Russian-made system, which was developed during the Cold War.
How the S-300 Ended Up in Greece
Athens first acquired the S-300 PMU1 system after the Cyprus Missile Crisis –the political standoff between the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Turkey that began in early 1997 and extended to 1998. Cyprus had acquired the weapons as a means of deterring a Turkish attack.
When the crisis ended in December 1998, the Cypriot government transferred its two S-300 air-defense systems to Greece’s Hellenic Air Force in exchange for alternative weapons. In a U.S.-broker compromise, the S-300 was eventually stationed in Crete – and now nearly 25 years later it could head to Ukraine.
The S-300 had also been operated by former Warsaw Pact member Czechoslovakia, which passed the systems to independent Slovakia in 1993. Those weapons were subsequently donated to Ukraine earlier this year.
East Germany had also operated a number of S-300s, but those were returned to the Soviet Union prior to the unification of Germany in 1990.
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.