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Media: Austria wants to join European air defense initiative over Russian threat

by Martin Fornusek July 3, 2023 11:12 AM 1 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Austria wishes to join the European Sky Shield Initiative to protect against Russian wayward drones and missiles, Euractiv wrote on July 3.

The move has sparked discussions on the country's long-standing military neutrality, the outlet added.

The Germany-spearheaded air defense initiative was launched in October 2022 and encompasses 17 European NATO countries. It was established in reaction to massive Russian air strikes against Ukraine.

Russian missile strikes have been known to impact NATO territory. Possible remnants of a Russian Kh-55 cruise missile were found in Poland in April 2023. Fragments of what appeared to be a Ukrainian air defense missile, fired against a Russian projectile, killed two Polish civilians near the border in November 2022.

Vienna's move prompted criticism from the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) on accounts that it violates the country's long-standing neutrality policy. Unlike the other members of the Sky Shield initiative, Austria is not a NATO member.

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg rebutted the criticism, saying that Sky Shield is not a NATO initiative and that Austria will merely pool and share its resources while sticking to its neutrality.

Austria is among the "neutral" bloc of countries opposing the EU's long-term security guarantees for Ukraine and has refused to provide lethal aid to the besieged country. Vienna has, however, provided humanitarian assistance and non-lethal military aid.

Austria, Hungary agree not to supply weapons to Ukraine
Austria and Hungary have agreed not to send military assistance to Ukraine, Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner and her Hungarian counterpart Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky said at a meeting in Budapest on Jan. 30, cited by Euractiv.
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