US Congress approves grant of $50 million for Slovakia

The condition is, however, that Slovakia uses the resources to buy army equipment from the USA.

Black Hawk helicopterBlack Hawk helicopter (Source: Defence Ministry/TASR)

Most purchases for the Slovak army must be financed from the domestic budget but beginning in October, an unusual event has been announced. A foreign subsidy worth several million dollars, a unique feature, has been approved.

The US Congress has recently passed the grant amounting to $50 million for Slovakia, the Denník N daily wrote on October 8.

Drawing the money has a condition, however. Slovakia will have to use it to purchase army equipment from the US, US Embassy Spokesperson Griffin Rozell confirmed. The money comes from the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme that US allies from all around the world can access.

“This grant should serve as an addition to national resources,” Rozell explained, as quoted by Denník N.

What will the money be used for?

The money should be used to purchase American technology that is in accordance with the standards of NATO and would help Slovakia get rid of obsolete technology of Soviet production.

Asked by the daily about specific projects the money would go towards, Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Skoček answered that this falls under the remit of the Defence Ministry. The latter ignored the questions.

Denník N deems it most probable that the resources will go to complete and update the equipment of the US Black Hawk helicopters procured in spring 2015 in the “minimum” version without arms and without systems of passive protection. Without these features, they cannot be deployed in war zones.

Defence Minister Peter Gajdoš announced earlier this year that they plan to buy additional equipment for the Black Hawks.

The meaning and the motivation

Military purchases are unique in that they cannot be financed from EU-funds. Thus, foreign sources used for financing army projects are rather exceptional.

“The financial aid amounting to $50 million is really unique in the Slovak environment,” security analyst Jaroslav Naď confirmed, as quoted by Denník N.

Other countries, however, draw grants from FMF in much bigger volume. In 2017, according to Defence News, a total of $5.7 billion was allocated from this programme, mostly to Israel (3.1 billion), Egypt (1.3 billion) and Jordan (350 million).

The allocation of this money is politically motivated, Denník N wrote, adding that criteria including the perceived contributions and benefit of the due countries for US foreign policy. In the case of Slovakia, its location on the eastern NATO border and whose protection the US is trying to boost since the conflict in Ukraine may have played a role, analyst Naď opines, adding that Slovakia has also seemed to follow a quite sensible pro-western policy for some years which might also have impacted on the decision.

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