Greece rules out air defence systems to Ukraine, prime minister says

European Union leaders summit in Brussels

ATHENS (Reuters) - Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece can not offer air defence systems like 'Patriots' or S-300 to Ukraine responding to pressure from EU and NATO allies to send more military aid to Kyiv.

With Russia having stepped up air attacks on Ukraine, EU governments are under pressure to supply more protective systems to Kyiv especially countries like Greece and Spain that have such systems in their arsenal.

"Greece is not going to send S-300 or Patriot to Ukraine," Mitsotakis said in an interview in Skai TV late on Thursday.

European Union ministers said on Monday they were looking urgently at how to provide more air defences to Ukraine but they stopped short of concrete pledges of the Patriot systems that Kyiv values most.

"We were asked and we explained why we cannot do it," Mitsotakis said adding that these systems are "critical to our deterrent capability."

Defense is a very sensitive issue for Athens given the tensions with Turkey especially for a conservative government.

Greece has sent to Ukraine in the past thousands of rockets, explosives, IVFs vehicles, high explosive incendiaries, ammunition and anti-tank rockets.

The U.S. will host on Friday a virtual meeting of Ukraine international aid donors, days after Congress emerged from a half-year of deadlock to approve a $61 billion aid package for Ukraine.

(Reporting by Lefteris Papadimas; Editing by Michael Perry)