Slovakia has sent its S-300 anti-aircraft missile defence system to Ukraine.
The secret transfer allegedly took two days, according to private broadcaster TV Markíza, which broke the news, reported on its website.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), en route to Kyiv, confirmed the report.
"I would like to confirm that Slovakia has provided Ukraine with an air-defence system S-300. 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," Heger wrote on Twitter.
He stated that the decision does not mean Slovakia has joined the armed conflict in Ukraine, adding that the defence of Slovakia will be secured.
Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď (OĽaNO) later added that the USA would send another Patriot missile defence array to Slovakia, which will be added to the Patriot system already provided by Germany and the Netherlands.
Defence minister kept mum
Earlier this week, TV Markíza confronted Naď (OĽaNO) with video footage from Sereď (Trnava Region), where military equipment resembling the S-300 system was was being loaded onto military transporters. At the time, the minister said that they were carrying out many logistic operations to secure the operation of NATO troops coming to Slovakia and that he had no idea what the equipment was.
"We're carrying nothing to Ukraine; I'd have to know something about that," he said at the time, as quoted by the Sme daily.
Naď also said in the past that the S-300 system would be taken to eastern Slovakia, where it was supposed to protect Slovakia's airspace, but not Ukraine's.
The S-300 is a sophisticated, Soviet/Russian-made missile-defence system that uses mobile radar, command and missile launch platforms to protect against aircraft and ballistic missile attacks over a wide area. Slovakia's decision to send its S-300 system to Ukraine makes it the first NATO country to deliver such an important defensive tool to help Ukraine fight the Russian invasion.
Earlier this week, the Czech Republic donated dozens of T-72 tanks and BVP-1 combat vehicles to Ukraine. The models, which date from the 1980s, are considered obsolete by the Czech army, but had been maintained in working condition, according to Sme.
Meanwhile, Russia has repeatedly warned NATO countries against sending military aid to Ukraine, saying that it would consider any supplies of weapons a legitimate military target. However, it has failed to stop such deliveries so far.