Bratislava, Slovakia – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned Slovakia against supplying Ukraine with the Soviet-made S-300 air defence system.
“I want to remind all countries, which are considering such a move that Soviet systems and systems made in Russia are placed in these countries in accordance with intergovernmental agreements and also have a user certificate which bans their sales or shipments to third countries,” Lavrov told RT, as quoted by Euractiv.
Under the 1990 agreement between Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union referenced by Lavrov, Slovakia is prohibited from giving or selling the S-300 air defence system to Ukraine or any other country.
Moscow had already issued a thinly veiled threat against Slovakia, saying any such military delivery to Ukraine would be considered a “legitimate military target”.
Slovakia’s Defence Ministry dismissed Russia’s warning, saying Bratislava “will itself freely consider how to us its own military property in a way that best suits [Slovak] interests”.
Last week, Slovak authorities announced they were willing to provide besieged Ukraine with its Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missile system but talks with Kyiv and Washington are still ongoing.
“We’re willing to do so immediately when we have a proper replacement” in order to avoid “a security gap in NATO”, Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said alongside his US counterpart.
Slovakia is one of three NATO countries using the Soviet-made air defence system, according to CNN – the other two being Bulgaria and Greece.
Replacing it with the US-made Patriot system, which is currently being deployed in Slovakia by German and Dutch personnel, could take time, analysts point out.