Italy’s Withdrawal of Air Defense System from Slovakia Worries NATO

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According to reports from media sources on Saturday, Prime Minister Robert Fico has disclosed that Italy intends to retrieve its SAMP/T surface-based air defense system from Slovakia.

The system, which was temporarily stationed in Slovakia last year as a replacement for the US Patriot anti-aircraft system, transferred to Ukraine, is set to be withdrawn by the Italian government due to its requirement elsewhere. However, details regarding the destination of the system post-withdrawal remain undisclosed by Fico.

Expressing apprehensions about Slovakia’s security post-removal, Fico highlighted the absence of alternatives to safeguard the country’s airspace. He pointed out the sequence of events where Slovakia initially provided Ukraine with a Russian S-300 air defense system, followed by the deployment of American Patriots which were subsequently removed, now culminating in the withdrawal of the Italian system.

Recent skepticism over Slovakia’s decision to support Ukraine at the expense of its own security has been voiced by the newly-appointed Defense Minister, Robert Kalinak. In a January interview with Standard newspaper, Kalinak criticized the previous government for transferring crucial military hardware to Ukraine without contingency plans for replacements, underscoring the potential years needed to restore national security.

Fico, who assumed office in September the previous year and has been critical of the Western stance on the Ukraine conflict, halted Slovakia’s military aid to Kiev upon his election. In a social media video statement last month, he reiterated his commitment to refrain from deploying Slovak troops to Ukraine, even if it means relinquishing his premiership.


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