Dutch Patriot missile systems heading to Slovakia
A Dutch Patriot anti-aircraft missile system and 150 Dutch soldiers are on their way to Slovakia to "protect the NATO treaty area and the population against possible incoming missiles," the Ministry of Defense said. They left from the Luitenant-generaal Bestkazerne in Limburg on Thursday.
The Dutch soldiers will be stationed at the Sliac airbase along with German soldiers. The Patriot system will be stationed nearby for at least six months due to the deteriorating safety situation following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Defense said.
"You will soon be defending part of the eastern flank of the NATO treaty area. That is a very serious assignment," Commander of the Land Forces Lieutenant General Martin Wijnen said at the soldiers' deployment. "I think the capacity is enough deterrent that it won't come down to firing. If it does, then I know that you are well trained and, together with the Germans, will get the job done. I know that NATO partners can count on us. Be safe!"
Now that the Dutch Patriot missile systems are on their way to Slovakia, the country is sending S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense stressed that it supplies the weapon systems at NATO's request. "That is independent of Slovakia's decision to supply the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Ukraine," a spokesperson told NOS. "Even if Slovakia decided not to do it, the Netherlands would still go to Slovakia with the Patriot air defense system."
Frans Osinga, professor of War Studies in Leiden and affiliated with the Dutch Defense Academy, agrees with the Defense statement. "The delivery of the Dutch Patriots have been agreed for some time, even before it became clear that Slovakia would send the S-300 to Ukraine," he said to the broadcaster.