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FT: Spain, Greece face pressure from EU states to step up air defense supplies to Ukraine

by Chris York April 22, 2024 11:20 AM 2 min read
The launcher of a Patriot air defense system on Oct. 14, 2020, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. (Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Spain and Greece are under pressure to provide more air defenses to Ukraine ahead of a meeting of the EU's foreign and defense ministers in Luxembourg on April 22, the Financial Times (FT) wrote, citing official sources.

Both countries have large numbers of the systems badly needed by Kyiv to protect its cities across the country from escalating Russian attacks.

"Patriots can only be called air defense systems if they work and save lives rather than standing immobile somewhere in storage bases," President Volodymyr Zelensky said on April 21.

A senior EU official taking part in the meeting told the FT that member states are expected to "step forward" to provide Ukraine with what it needs.

"European leaders personally urged Spanish and Greek prime ministers Pedro Sanchez and Kyriakos Mitsotakis at a summit in Brussels last week to donate air defense systems to Ukraine, according to people briefed on the discussions," the FT writes.

"The two leaders, whose armed forces possess between them more than a dozen Patriot systems plus others such as S-300s, were told that their needs were not as great as Ukraine's and that they did not face any imminent threats."

Escalating Russian strikes and resulting civilian casualties underscore Ukraine's dire need for additional air defenses, and while the potential passing of the U.S. aid bill should alleviate some of the need, Zelensky told an online session of the NATO-Ukraine Council on April 19 that European countries can still do more.

Following the council meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the allies have pledged to provide Ukraine with additional air defense systems.

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Zelensky noted that Ukraine needs a minimum of seven Patriot systems, which would "save many lives."

"This year cannot be just a year of further discussions. Everything is quite specific now. Ukraine needs air defense, and the partners can help with it," the president added.

Germany was one of the first to heed Ukraine's call and pledged an additional Patriot air defense system, along with ammunition.

Earlier on Apr 19, the Netherlands said it had allocated around $210 million for air defense and artillery ammunition for Kyiv.

"I am grateful to everyone who is with Ukraine, with our people and with our defense now," Zelensky said.

"Please, take care of your neighbors when it's needed. Take care of our Ukraine and spread the truth in the world by all means. The truth is that the world can do it."

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The first Russian Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber was reportedly shot down by Ukraine and crashed over Russia’s Stavropol Krai overnight on April 19. The aircraft was carrying out a combat mission when a Soviet-era S-200 anti-aircraft system shot it down, an intelligence source told the Kyiv In…


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