Athens will not supply S-300 air defense missile systems to Ukraine, despite the United States’ relevant requests, as this would weaken Greece’s defense, the country’s Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos told media.
When asked if US State Secretary Antony Blinken had requested the sending of military equipment, including S-300 systems, to Ukraine during his recent trip to Greece earlier this week, Panagiotopoulos said that Washington had long asked Athens to supply S-300 systems to Ukraine.
“But we said that we could not grant this request because we could in no way provide any assistance by weakening our defenses. S-300s are where they are. They were bought and arrived in Greece for certain reasons, and as long as these reasons exist, we are not going to agree to any weakening of our defense system,” Panagiotopoulos said.
The technical maintenance of missiles for the air defense systems “will not be an easy task,” the minister said, noting that this applies to all weapons systems of Russian or Soviet production.
“Because not only S-300s are deployed on the islands, but also some short-range air defense systems, these are infantry fighting vehicles. We gave 20 infantry fighting vehicles we have to Ukraine in exchange with the Germans, we received more modern and, therefore, more suitable for our needs German-made armored vehicles. There are 20 more to give. In any case, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain these systems,” the defense head said.
Greece acquired the S-300 air defense missile systems from Cyprus. They are currently deployed in Crete.
In the 1990s, Greece acquired a significant number of Soviet and Russian-made weapons complexes, including air defense systems S-300 and Tor, as well as different anti-tank missiles and infantry fighting vehicles. The US has been urging Greece, as a NATO member, to replace these weapons with US-made systems.