PRAGUE (Reuters) – A NATO battlegroup being formed for Slovakia in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will include 1,200 foreign troops and a Patriot missile defence system manned by German and Dutch personnel, Slovak Defence Minister Jaroslav Nad said on Saturday.
NATO-member Slovakia shares a border with Ukraine and does not currently have foreign soldiers stationed on its territory. NATO, a Western military alliance, pledged to further reinforce its eastern flank after Russia attacked Ukraine this week.
Nad said Germany was providing the Patriot system.
“Germany will participate robustly,” Nad said after a government meeting.
Slovakia will provide 300 soldiers to the NATO battlegroup, he said, taking its total size to 1,500. Slovakia was also in talks on providing troops for the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia, he said.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was deploying elements of its rapid response force, which is made up of land, air, maritime and special operations forces, on allied territory.
Germany separately announced sending a company of soldiers – company is usually around 150-200 – to Slovakia and said it was sending a Patriot battery along with 300 soldiers to operate it to NATO’s eastern flank. It did not specify where the battery was going.
The military equipment planned for the deployment in Slovakia was worth around 1 billion euros, Nad said.
“All of us care to strengthen the eastern border, because we can see what Putin and his regime do,” Nad said, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He said he would propose documents on hosting foreign troops to the cabinet and parliament within several weeks.
(Reporting by Robert Muller and Jan Lopatka; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)