Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov says his recent trips abroad including a visit to Cyprus have been “very important” as Kiev still negotiates for Soviet-made missiles ahead of the next Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Germany.
Reznikov, who visited the Republic of Cyprus earlier this month, wrote on Facebook that he had “fruitful meetings” in just ten days with his counterparts in Athens, Nicosia, Madrid, and Bucharest.
"Ahead of the Ramstein group meeting, which will be a milestone because this format of the anti-Kremlin coalition turns one year old, we had a very intensive period in terms of international contacts,” Reznikov wrote.
Kiev has been calling for more Soviet-made weapons to be supplied by allies, including Cyprus.
Nicosia has repeatedly dismissed rumors that Soviet-made weapons would be sent to Ukraine to fights the Russians, while officials on the island never completely ruled out indirect supply to Kiev through swap deals with third countries.
'The goal remains unchanged, weapons and other forms of support that strengthen the defense forces of Ukraine' Reznikov wrote
Newly-appointed Cypriot Defense Minister Michalis Giorgallas, who spoke just before Reznikov’s visit, told a local television network that Cyprus was supporting Ukraine in humanitarian ways, clarifying the assistance was not military.
Training sessions were expected to take place on the island between Cypriot and Ukrainian teams, according to official statements.
After visiting Cyprus and the other countries, Reznikov took to social media saying “we attract help, agree on production, work out training programs for our soldiers.”
“Such visits and meetings at the political level are very useful because they not only help to maintain a high overall pace but also contribute to the quick resolution of many practical issues which would take weeks in remote mode," Reznikov said.
But the Ukrainian minister also said the focus of the meetings during his tour was on Soviet-made weaponry, especially rockets and missiles, as well as other forms of support.
“The goal remains unchanged, weapons and other forms of support that strengthen the defense forces of Ukraine,” he wrote on Facebook.
KIev has been desperately seeking Russian-made defense systems such as Cyprus’ Tor-M1 and Buk-M1 missile batteries, while the island’s S-300 missiles that were handed over to Greece were also on Kiev’s radar.
“Ukraine is interested in both Soviet-style platforms and, especially, missiles and rounds, because these weapons immediately end up on the battlefield, as well as Western-made systems that provide qualitative advantages,” Reznikov wrote.
The comments came just days ahead of a meeting later this week of Ukraine Defense Contact Group, known as the Ramstein group, where representatives from EU, NATO, and other countries will gather at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Ukrainian media said negotiations were still ongoing with several countries ahead of the meeting.
"Our priorities are known, protecting the sky, creating an 'armored fist', ensuring ammunition," Reznikov stated.
The notorious Soviet-made S-300 missiles
Greece has vowed ammunition support for Kiev but neither Athens nor Nicosia have been open about any negotiations.
Last week Giorgallas joked about the S-300 on AlphaNews Live when he was asked whether he would look into any negotiations between Athens and Kiev on the Soviet-made system.
“When you took office, did you not want to look into those notorious S-300, what’s up with them, where are they?” the TV anchor asked.
“I wonder,” Giorgallas replied while laughing it off.
“Well, I didn’t want to be nosy, as this weapon system now belongs to the Greek military forces,” Giorgallas said.
But the Cypriot minister went on to tease that “both Greece and Cyprus will soon acquire” a comparable air defense system.