Italy to withdraw its air defense system from fellow NATO state

Aprilia Rine

Italy to withdraw its air defense system from fellow NATO state

Slovakia was temporarily provided with the SAMP/T last year, which is now needed “elsewhere,” PM Robert Fico says

Italy plans to withdraw its SAMP/T surface-based air defense system from Slovakia, according to media reports on Saturday, citing Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The system in question was temporarily deployed to Slovakia last year to replace the US Patriot anti-aircraft system, which the country transferred to Ukraine.

“I received a notice from the Italian government that the Italian air defense system, which they lent us for a year, will be withdrawn from Slovakia, because they need it elsewhere,” Fico was cited as saying, without elaborating on where exactly the system will be transferred next. The prime minister expressed concerns regarding his country’s security once the system is removed, as Slovakia currently has no alternative to protect its air space.

“First, the previous government donated a functional massive Russian S-300 air defense system to Ukraine. Then we had American Patriots here for a while, they were also removed, and now the Italian [system] will also be taken away.”

The wisdom of Slovakia sending military aid to Ukraine at the expense of its own security was also recently questioned by the country’s newly-appointed defense minister, Robert Kalinak. In an interview with the newspaper Standard in January, the official accused the previous government of surrendering key military hardware to Ukraine without making plans to secure replacements, noting that it would likely take years to fix the damage done to national security.

READ MORE: ‘No air defense, no air force, no money’ – EU state complains after helping Ukraine

Upon being elected in September last year, Fico, an outspoken critic of the Western approach to the Ukraine conflict, halted Slovakia’s military aid to Kiev. In a video statement on social media last month, he also pledged not to send Slovak troops to Ukraine, even if it costs him his premiership.

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