Neutral Austria ready to join Germany’s Euro air defence project

Austria

Austria, a neutral country, announced on Saturday its intention to join the European Sky Shield initiative, launched in 2022 by Germany against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. “We must and will take precautions to protect our country against the risk of drone or missile attacks,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said in a press release, citing “a threat that has considerably worsened”. He stressed that the decision did not call into question the neutrality of Austria, which has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 1995.

“No European state can effectively defend its airspace against new dangers on its own,” Nehammer insisted. Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner hailed “an important step in the history” of the country. European defence ministries sharply reduced spending on anti-aircraft equipment following the end of the Cold War, but have revised their positions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Led by Germany, 17 European nations – including the UK, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden – have banded together on air defence under the European Sky Shield project.

The Sky Shield system would involve joint procurement for short-, medium- and long-range systems, including the German-made Iris-T, the American Patriot and the US-Israeli Arrow-3. However, France, Italy and Poland have not signed up to the scheme, Paris arguing in favour of a sovereign air defence system using European equipment.__Daily Times