Germany says it will provide Ukraine with an air defense system within days

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will deliver the first four advanced IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine in the coming days to help fend off drone attacks, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said during a surprise visit to Odessa on Saturday.

As the air raid sirens sounded in the port city above, Lambrecht held talks with her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksiy Reznikov in an underground bunker. Lambrecht had extended a visit to neighboring Moldova to attend the meeting.

“In a few days, we will deliver the ultra-modern IRIS-T air defense system,” she told ARD TV. “This is very important for drone defense in particular.”

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Ukraine has seen more attacks from Iranian-made kamikaze drones in recent weeks, claiming lives and causing extensive damage to infrastructure.

It first emerged in May that Berlin is considering sending the IRIS-T air defense system, which costs 150 million euros ($147 million) apiece.

The German armed forces themselves do not currently own the system, which is counted among the most advanced in the world.

Earlier, during her meeting with her Moldovan counterpart Anatoly Nosati in Chisinau, she urged Western countries not to be deterred from arming Ukraine due to threats that Russia might use nuclear weapons.

“We have to be very careful,” she said. “But we must not let ourselves be paralyzed.”

Germany is facing calls to increase its support for Ukraine, including by sending offensive weapons such as modern tanks that Kyiv says needs to take the fight to Russian forces.

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Berlin has so far resisted such calls, arguing that such moves would escalate the situation, noting that no other country has yet sent tanks more modern than the old Soviet stocks sent by the former Warsaw Pact countries.

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(Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Sabine Siebold); Editing by Alexander Smith

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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