Slovakia angered after Italy withdraws air defense system in wake of Fico’s comments on Ukraine

The radar module of the SAMP/T ground-based air defense system. (Wikimedia Commons)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has announced that Italy will withdraw the SAMP/T air defense system from the country, with the announcement coming shortly after Fico made a number of controversial comments about Ukraine and how its war began with Russia.

“We have received a message from the Italian government that the Italian air defense system, which it lent us for one year, will be withdrawn from Slovakia because it is needed elsewhere,” Fico said.

According to him, Slovak strategic installations, especially nuclear power plants, will now be unprotected. He added that the previous government “gave” Ukraine a functional Russian S-300 air defense system.

“Then we had American Patriot systems for a while, then they left, and now the Italians are leaving,” the prime minister stated. Slovakia supplied Ukraine with S-300s after the large-scale Russian invasion in 2022, according to Hungarian news outlet Ziare.

Earlier, Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar met and held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at a diplomatic forum in Antalya, Turkey, a meeting that Fico praised. On the second anniversary of the full-scale war, Fico said the war began “back in 2014 with the rampant spread of Ukrainian neo-Nazis.”

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is known for her pro-Ukraine stance, with speculation that the air defense systems may have been removed in retaliation for Fico’s recent statements, including blaming the start of the war on Ukrainian neo-Nazis and the spread of NATO towards Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday repeated a call to his Western allies to offer Kyiv more air defense systems after fresh Russian attacks killed five people, according to Ukraine. The attacks on the Black Sea port city of Odessa on Friday night killed three people, including a child, and destroyed a nine-story building, Ukrainian officials said.

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