France Requests Greek Air Defense System for Paris Olympics

Paris 2024

ATHENS — According to the Greek newspaper "Kathimerini," France has made a formal request to borrow a Greek air defense system for the duration of the Paris Olympic Games.

Reportedly, French authorities have asked for the transfer of a Crotale short-range surface-to-air missile system from the Greek Air Force. Diplomatic discussions on this matter began last November, but no significant progress has been made thus far.

The reason behind France's request is said to be their intention to provide anti-aircraft systems to Ukraine. They seek allied assistance to ensure the air defense of critical infrastructure in Paris during the Olympic Games, as per Kathimerini's sources.

Government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis stated during a regular briefing that Greece is willing to provide assistance to allies for specific time periods, such as the Olympics, as long as it doesn't compromise the country's defense capabilities. However, any decision would be made after coordination and consultation between both parties.

An official from the French embassy in Athens declined to comment on the matter.

This marks the first time such a request has been made for air defense material for the Olympics. Previously, it was reported that foreign police and military presence would suffice.

While indirectly linked to Ukraine, France's request is viewed as a subtle pressure tactic on Athens to contribute to the European effort to bolster Kyiv's defenses.

Further pressure from the United States is anticipated during a planned teleconference on Friday regarding Ukraine's assistance in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

The Crotale air-defense system in question, integrated into the Greek air force in 2003, is of French origin. It boasts a firing range of 11-20 kilometers and a maximum engagement altitude of 6 km, making it suitable for the purpose intended by France.

Recent reports suggest that European leaders urged Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to supply air defense systems to Ukraine during a summit in Brussels.

Marinakis emphasized during a press briefing that while Greece has provided assistance to Ukraine in the past, it will not take any action that jeopardizes the nation's deterrent capabilities or air defense. He reiterated Greece's firm stance on this matter.

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