US proposes to Greece to replace its Russian air defense systems with NATO equipment

According to information published by the Greek magazine website "Ptisi & Diastima" on November 23, 2022, the United States proposed to the Greek armed forces to replace all Russian-made military equipment including air defense systems with new military equipment produced by the US or European defense companies.
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Russian-made TOR-M1 air defense missile system of the Greek army. (Picture source Army Recognition)

After the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine started, Greece, as one of the EU countries, imposed sanctions on Russia, and Russia added all EU countries to the list of "unfriendly nations", which poses a problem for the maintenance and purchase of spare parts of Russian-made military equipment.

Greece is one of the few pre-1990 NATO member countries that use Russian weapons. Greece first received many Soviet-era surplus weapons, such as BMP-1 armored fighting vehicles, RM-70 rocket launchers, ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns and SA-8 anti-aircraft missile systems from the former East German National People's Army inventory in the early 1990s. During the 2000s, Greece additionally procured the TOR M-1 and S-300PMU1 anti-aircraft air defense missile systems, the Kornet-E anti-tank missile, AK-74M assault rifles, and ZUBR hovercraft.

Citing the Ptisi & Diastima website, the United States could propose the purchase of US and European military equipment via the Foreign Military Sale programs. At the same time, Ukraine has requested Greece to provide Russian-made air defense systems currently in service with the Greek armed forces, but this idea was rejected due to the contract agreement signed by Greece with Russia.

The second reason, Greece didn't want to decrease its air defense capabilities. By the way, Greece accepted to donate its fleet of Soviet-made BMP-1 in exchange for German-made Marder 1A3. The BMP-1 was sold to Greece after the reunification of Germany.

In 1993, Greece ordered about 500 BMP-1s from the stocks of the former East German army. Around 200 remain today of which 140 are estimated to be fully operational. Another 44 were converted to ZU-23-2 carriers. The BMP-1 used by the Greek army was modernized to respond to the NATO standard. The Soviet-made missile launcher system was removed and one 12.7mm .50 machine gun is mounted on the roof of the turret.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Greece has already donated to Ukraine 40,000 AK-47-type assault rifles and unspecified amounts of small arms ammunition, 815 RPG-18 anti-tank rocket launchers, 122 rockets for the RM-70 multiple rocket launcher, 3,200,000 7.62 mm rounds, 15,000 73 mm rounds, 2,100 122 mm rockets, 60 MANPADS FIM-92 Stinger man-portable air defense missile, 17,000 155 mm artillery rounds, and 1,100 RPG-18 anti-tank rockets.

According to military open source information, currently, the Greek armed forces have 21 9K331 Tor-M1 (SA-15 Gauntlet), 38 9K33 Osa-M (SA-8B Gecko), and 12 S-300PMU1 (SA-20 Gargoyle) air defense missile systems that were bought from Russia.