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S-300 deliveries to Ukraine to be senseless without operational aircraft, says expert

An air defense system operates properly "only under the conditions of the operation of its own aviation that fights for air supremacy"

MOSCOW, April 8. /TASS/. The efficiency of any air defense capabilities, including S-300 missile systems, depends on interoperability with other weapon systems, especially aviation that has been largely destroyed in Ukraine, a leading Russian expert told TASS on Friday, commenting on an S-300 system that Slovakia delivered to Ukrainian troops.

"Of those deliveries that are now being discussed, the S-300 is especially significant because it makes it possible to strike targets at large distances," leading researcher of the Center for Prospective American Studies at the Russian Foreign Ministry’s MGIMO University Igor Istomin said.

An air defense system operates properly "only under the conditions of the operation of its own aviation that fights for air supremacy," the expert pointed out.

"Ukrainian aviation has been largely destroyed and that is why the issue of the delivery of fighters, namely, MiG-29s, is periodically raised," Istomin said.

The problem with aircraft is far more serious in Ukraine than with air defense weapons, the expert said.

"Aircraft require airfields, from which they can take off. During the first stage of its special military operation, Russia substantially destroyed the aerodrome network. That is why, quite non-standard options were proposed, in particular, that Ukrainian pilots would fly Polish MiGs [MiG-29 fighters], taking off from Polish aerodromes," the expert said, noting that this scenario might prompt a decision to strike not only Ukrainian aircraft but also their airfields located on the territory of a NATO member state.

Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger announced earlier on Friday that his country had sent an S-300 air defense system to Ukraine. In turn, the media outlet TV claimed that the S-300 system was already in Ukraine.

US White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed at a regular press briefing on Thursday that the United States had not altered its negative attitude to the idea of handing over Soviet-made MiG-29 fighters in Poland’s possession to Ukraine through NATO.

For his part, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov warned on March 6 that the use of the airfield network of neighboring countries for stationing Ukrainian combat aircraft with their subsequent employment against Russian troops could be qualified as drawing these states into the armed conflict.