Slovakia to lose Patriot battery

One hundred US soldiers to also leave.

The Patriot air defence missile system at the Sliač military airport, central Slovakia, on April 27, 2022. The Patriot air defence missile system at the Sliač military airport, central Slovakia, on April 27, 2022. (Source: TASR – Ján Krošlák )

The US Army is planning to withdraw a Patriot air defence battery from the Malacky-Kuchyňa air force base in a move which will also see 100 soldiers leave Slovakia, according to the daily Denník N.

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Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Naď said the battery, which has been at the base since spring last year, will be moved to Germany for maintenance in the coming months. He rejected claims it would be transferred to Ukraine.

Related article Slovakia still isn't ready to host NATO battle groups permanently Read more 

US President Joe Biden recently pledged to provide Ukrainian forces with the defence system.

Shortly after Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year, the Netherlands and Germany announced they would send three Patriot systems to Slovakia as part of NATO’s effort to strengthen the eastern flank of the alliance. Last autumn, the Dutch battery was withdrawn.

There are currently 300 US Army soldiers in Slovakia, one hundred of which operate the Patriot system. It is these who will leave, while the rest will continue to operate at the Lešť military base near Zvolen, central Slovakia.

Related article NATO discussing ammunition production for Ukraine in Slovakia Read more 

Meanwhile, Italian daily La Repubblica has said that Italy could provide a replacement system for Slovakia as well as soldiers to operate it. The Italian army does not have a Patriot system, but uses a modern Italian-French system for defence against aircraft, drones, and rockets.

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"Italian army experts have visited potential sites in Slovakia where their system could be located, but nothing has been settled yet," said Naď.

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