Greece has pledged to provide Ukraine with military support “for as long as it takes” during a meeting between both of the countries’ defense ministers held in Athens on Thursday.
Greece has offered to support Ukraine with artillery munitions, small arms ammunition, access to Greek medical facilities for wounded Ukrainian personnel, and an additional shipment of Soviet-era BMP infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). Training for tank operators and special forces units will also be provided by the Hellenic Armed Forces.
However, there are notable limits that Greece will impose on the provision of military assistance. Most notably Athens will not be joining other Western nations like the US, UK, and Germany in sending its most advanced main battle tanks to be used by Ukrainian forces.
Greece to provide more military support for Ukraine
Greece “will provide every support to Ukraine at this very important, crucial stage of the war,” said Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos during a joint appearance with his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov on Thursday.
The assistance will include crucial supplies such as artillery shells and ammunition for small arms weapons, both of which are being rapidly depleted in the war of attrition between Russia and Ukraine.
Greece and Russia have historically shared close ties but Moscow has been highly critical of Athens’ stance on the conflict in Ukraine. In the aftermath of the invasion last February, the Greek government opted to provide support for Ukraine in the form of military supplies and sanctions against Russia as part of a wider Western effort led by the US.
Athens will however be placing limits on the extent of assistance provided to Kyiv, particularly because Greece has its own security concerns in the Eastern Mediterranean, despite a recent thawing in relations with neighboring Turkey.
During an address to the Greek Parliament just ahead of Reznikov’s visit, Panagiotopoulos was at pains to stress that Greece would not jeopardize its own national security interests with the provision of important military equipment to Ukraine.
“The rumors are running rampant: That we will send fighter jets, and S-300s, and this and that. For goodness’ sake,” the Greek defense minister said. “We give what we can give, but nothing that would weaken in the slightest our own defense capabilities given our own national security challenges.”
Most importantly, Panagiotopoulos ruled out sending any of Greece’s German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs) to Ukraine, amid the well-publicized decision of the US, UK, and Germany to provide Abrams, Challenger, and Leopard MBTs for use by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Panagiotopoulos did however insist that Greece should provide more BMP-1 IFVs for Ukraine. Greece agreed to send 40 of the vehicles to Ukraine last September.
“We have sent BMPs and we need to send more,” the defense minister argued. “If we have possibilities from the stock, from the surplus, we will help, because from the first moment we have said that we support every struggle against every revisionism.”
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