ATHENS – After Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned his country’s missiles could hit Athens, Greece has offered to sent its S-300 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to Ukraine, in exchange for US-made Patriot missile defenses.
Greece was among the first countries to send weapons to Ukraine after Russia invaded but has backed off since, still relying on Russian energy that was exempted from European Union sanctions.
Greece, said Eurasian Times, wants to put on the island of Crete where Turkey alleged missile defense systems in August locked on to Turkish F-16 fighter jets taking part in a NATO drill with the United States.
Greece denied it was the S-300 and said the tracking was conducted by four of its own F-16 fighter jets, adding that the Turkish jets hadn’t filed a flight plan, leading Greece to scramble a response.
Greece’s S-300 – Turkey bought the more advanced S-400 system from Russian, a move which undermined NATO and could be used against Greece in a conflict – has aged, a product of the late 1980’s.
Greece originally wanted to place the S-300 in Cyprus from 1997-1998, but following objections from Turkey, Athens placed them on Crete, and now Turkey is complaining about and demanding Greece take troops off Aegean islands near Turkey’s coast, which could leave open to invasion that Erdogan threatened.
The Raytheon Technologies-made MIM-104 Patriot is a surface-to-air missile (SAM) platform that can engage aircraft, cruise, and ballistic missiles, loitering munitions, and drones – Turkey has an arsenal of effective drones.
Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced and said that, “If the United States installs a Patriot system on the island (Crete) and after it is integrated (and) connected to the national air defense system, then the S-300 can be removed. The same procedure applies to any other Russian-made air defense system that they may want to send to Ukraine.”
Greece earlier said it was willing to send older Tor-M1, OSA-AKM air defense systems, and BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) – all of Russian origin- to Ukraine to be used against Russian forces. For the BMP-1, Greece has conditioned them to be replaced with the German-made Marder IFVs.
The new swap deal also contradicts what Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in September, that military assistance to Ukraine “should not come at the expense of the country’s defense,” when asked about the prospect, the site said.
Russia’s embassy in Washington said the proposed transfer was provocative and could bring consequences. “Even without providing Patriots, the United States is getting deeper and deeper into the conflict in the post-Soviet republic,” the mission wrote on its Telegram channel.