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Slovakia says NATO units armed with Patriot defense system arrive in country

A woman with two children and carrying bags walk on a street to leave Ukraine after crossing the Slovak-Ukrainian border in Ubla, eastern Slovakia, close to the Ukrainian city of Welykyj Beresnyj, on February 25, 2022 (PETER LAZAR / AFP)
A woman with two children and carrying bags walk on a street to leave Ukraine after crossing the Slovak-Ukrainian border in Ubla, eastern Slovakia, close to the Ukrainian city of Welykyj Beresnyj, on February 25, 2022 (PETER LAZAR / AFP)

Slovakia’s Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad says the first multinational NATO units with Patriot air defense systems have been moving to his country.

Nad says the transfers will continue in the next days.

Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to send troops armed with the Patriots to Slovakia. The troops are some of the 2,100 soldiers from several NATO members, including the United States, who will form a battlegroup on Slovak territory as the alliance boosts its defenses in its eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Nad says the Patriots will be initially deployed at the armed forces base of Sliac in central Slovakia and then will be stationed at various places to protect the largest possible Slovak territory.

He thanks Germany and the Netherlands for their “responsible decision” to fundamentally boost Slovakia’s defenses.

At the same time, Nad says, the Patriots will not replace the Russian-made S-300 air-defense system his country has relied on, calling their deployment “another component to protect Slovakia’s airspace.”

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