ATHENS – Russian’s invasion of Ukraine gave Greek Prime Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ push to buy new warships and upgrade fighter jets validation witi worry that Turkey might make a move and the buildup isn’t done yet.
In an interview with Kathimerini, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos outlined where the Armed Forces are adding to their military capability to deal with a conflict if it comes to that.
Greece made a $3.51 billion deal to buy three French Belharra frigates and the US State Department ok’d a $6.9 billion sale of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships, in addition to $2.5 billion worth of upgrades to the country’s existing Meko Class ships, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported in December, 2021.
Panagiotopoulos said Greece plans to also acquire guided missiles from Israel and upgrades of Block 50 F-16 fighter jets and Leopard battle tanks from Germany, while tightening ties with the US after making a mutual defense pact with France.
He also said that the US interested in including the country in the next-generation F-35 fighter jet program – from which Turkey was barred after buying Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that could be used against Greece and undermine NATO – the defense alliance to which all three countries belong.
He said that Greece has asked that the US consider supplying it with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and arms of “high operational value” with Turkish drones being a major threat and said to have turned the tide in favor of Azarbaijan in its war with Armenia.
He said the Russian invasion will have an impact on relations between Greece and Turkey but downplayed any danger of conflict because Greece is a member of the European Union – which has no army – and of NATO, which has let Turkey violate Greek airspace and waters.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine did not just bring war about Europe in the 21st century in a flagrant violation of international law and legitimacy; it also struck a significant blow to the security architecture of Europe,” he said.
He added that “Greece is clearly affected by this huge geopolitical destabilization, with a real danger that this crisis could escalate and spill over into the wider region. There is also the odious economic fallout that will inevitably accompany the war.”
“Our efforts are constant and have as their goal the reinforcement of our Armed Forces, which we should not forget are already able, combat-effective, and an important deterrent factor. But as time goes by, existing systems need upgrades, support, maintenance, and they must be complemented by the acquisition of cutting-edge technology,” he also said.
He added: “This is the reason why we are soon going to be planning the acquisition of new units, probably Corvettes, the modernization of the Hellenic Navy’s MEKO-class frigates, the acquisition of high-tech guided missiles from Israel, and the completion of an upgrade program for our F-16 Block 50 fighter jets.”