Greece does not suffer from a security gap due to Ukraine support: Defence Minister

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Greece does not suffer from any security gap, following its agreement to send Greek armored vehicles to Ukraine, Greek National Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said in Parliament on Friday.

Speaking to Parliament reporters, the minister referred to his Turkish counterpart's (Hulusi Akar) comments about the two countries restarting confidence-building measures, noting that "as long as there is a threat to (Greece's) territorial sovereignty, any effort to communicate will be fruitless."

Earlier, Panagiotopoulos responded to main opposition SYRIZA deputy Giorgos Tsipras, who protested the lack of government briefing to parties about the agreement between Greece and Germany, signed on September 16, and said the agreement would threaten Greece's security. Under the agreement, Greece will send to Ukraine 40 of its armored vehicles, which Germany will replace with 40 of its own older stock. The arrangement is part of European help to Ukraine after Russia's invasion.

The minister said he would request the convening of the Parliament's Standing Committee on National Defence and Foreign Affairs to brief parties about the details, at the end of October. The exchange, he said, will be concurrent, leaving no gap in Greece's defence. So far, the first 10 German armored vehicles are expected in Greece from Germany around October 21, with the next batch arriving in about a month.

The Ukrainians are familiar with the armored vehicles Greece will send, as they came from East Germany and therefore were Russian made, the minister noted. "The German armored vehicles are not of the latest technology, but they are much better and updated than the ones we are providing," Panagiotopoulos said.

Germany will fund the training and transport to Greece, and it now remains for Ukraine to arrange their pay and shipment. Greece will not be assuming costs for the transfers, he asserted, while Germany will provide free training as well.

"We never provided critical operational material of the Greek Armed Forces, neither do we plan to," Panagiotopoulos said, stressing particularly the Greek islands, where the antimissile systems of small or medium range are operationally active. "Greece's defence arrangement will not be weakened in any way either on the islands or on any of its territory. Our allies are aware of and understand, as we are under threat and face a specific one," he added.