NATO deploys Patriot air defense missile system in Slovakia

The Patriot air defense missile system can be used to intercept aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and high-speed ballistic missiles at altitudes up to 20km and from a distance of 60km.

Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad on March 20 confirmed that the first units responsible for deploying Patriot air defense missile systems from partner countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have begun to Slovakia. Implementation will continue in the coming days.

The Patriot air defense missile system, operated by German and Dutch troops, will initially be deployed at the Sliac airfield in central Slovakia to help bolster NATO’s eastern flank defenses.

The system can be used to intercept aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and high-speed ballistic missiles at altitudes up to 20km and from a distance of 60km.

In another development, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and this country’s Defense Minister Dragomir Zakov said on March 19 that Sofia had refused military aid to Ukraine in the conflict with Russia.

The statement was made by two Bulgarian officials during talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who paid an official visit to Sofia from March 18-19.

During the visit, the two sides discussed defense cooperation and NATO’s plans to increase presence on the alliance’s eastern flank amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Prime Minister Petkov denied that they would provide military aid to Kiev, but also confirmed that Bulgaria, as a NATO ally, would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

Bulgaria, which does not share a border with Ukraine but has received thousands of refugees from Ukraine, has agreed to accept a new NATO combat group as part of a plan to strengthen NATO forces on the eastern flank. of this military alliance.

The combat group will be deployed with up to 1,000 troops, operating under the command of the Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Europe.

For his part, the US Defense Secretary highly appreciated the support of the Bulgarian leaders in being ready to receive the above NATO combat group, and said that during the talks, the two sides discussed measures. measures to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation.

During the talks, a crowd of Bulgarian protesters gathered in a park near the headquarters of the Ministry of Defense of this country to protest against the military presence of the US and NATO in Bulgarian territory.

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