NATO countries have insufficient air defense assets to protect the alliance's eastern flank from possible Russian attack, the Financial Times reports, citing its own informed sources.

Referring to confidential defense plans developed last year, the news site says NATO countries are able to provide less than 5 percent of the air defense capabilities deemed necessary to protect allies in Central and Eastern Europe from a full-scale attack.

Speaking to the publication, a senior NATO diplomat said the ability to defend against missiles and air strikes was “a major part of the plan to defend eastern Europe from invasion”, adding: “And right now, we don’t have that.”

Journalists cite the current war in Ukraine as an example, emphasizing the importance of air defense. We are now seeing Kyiv asking the West for additional systems and missiles to protect its cities, troops and power grid from daily bombardment.

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The prime ministers of Greece and Poland, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Donald Tusk described air defense as a “major vulnerability in our security”, adding that the war in Ukraine has “[taught] us lessons that we can no longer ignore”

In a major defense review last year, the British government described the challenge of protecting “against attack from the skies” as being “its most acute for over 30 years.”

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The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has returned a large amount of surplus ammunition to the Armed Forces, which had been sent to enterprises for disposal before Russia's full-scale invasion.

Western fears have been heightened by the proliferation of cheap, long-range attack drones being used in the military conflict in Ukraine, the sources said.

According to the official who spoke to the FT, NATO's new defense plans also significantly increase the requirements for air and missile defense in terms of numbers and readiness.  Allies are investing in new air defense capabilities, including fighter jets, to ensure NATO's deterrent against Russia remains strong.

In particular, the EU countries are currently discussing the creation of the “European Sky Shield”, a project that Germany proposed last year.

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Immediately after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the United States deployed the Patriot air defense system to protect an airport in southern Poland that had become a hub for the delivery of Western weapons to Kyiv.

But officials say that NATO members have so few of these systems that their ability to deploy them outside their own territories is very limited.

NATO is currently discussing the possibility of securing the airspace over Western Ukraine and training Kyiv’s troops on their own soil, according to sources quoted in BILD.

Several member countries, including Estonia, the UK, Poland, Canada, Lithuania, and France, are advocating for increased support for Kyiv, potentially extending it onto Ukrainian territory.

In 2023, Finland and Sweden, which had previously maintained neutral status, joined NATO. Both applied in May 2022 against a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Putin was surprised that “Finland was dragged into NATO” as they had the most “heartfelt, warmest relationship.” He assessed Finland’s justification for the move as. “Nonsense.”

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