BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will deliver the first of four advanced IRIS-T air defense systems to Ukraine in the coming days to deter drone attacks, Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said during an unannounced visit to Odessa on Saturday.

As air raid sirens sounded in the port city above, Lambrecht held talks with her Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksiy Reznikov, in an underground bunker. Lambrecht visited nearby Moldova for the meeting.

“In a few days, we will deliver the very modern IRIS-T air defense system,” she told ARD television. “This is very important, especially for drone defense.”

Ukraine has seen more attacks by Iranian-made kamikaze drones in recent weeks, causing loss of life and severe damage to infrastructure.

It was first reported in May that Berlin is considering sending the IRIS-T surface-to-air defense system, which costs 150 million euros ($147 million) each.

The system, which is considered to be the most advanced in the world, is currently not owned by the German armed forces.

Earlier, meeting her Moldovan counterpart Anatoly Nosati in Chisinau, she urged the West not to deter Russia from arming Ukraine by threatening to use nuclear weapons.

“We have to be very careful,” she said. “But we must not allow ourselves to be paralyzed.”

Faced with calls for Germany to step up its support for Ukraine by sending offensive weapons such as modern tanks, Kyiv says it needs Russian troops to fight back.

Berlin has so far resisted such calls, arguing that such moves would escalate the situation and that no other country has so far sent more modern tanks than older Soviet stock sent by former Warsaw Pact countries.

($1 = 1.0205 Euro)

(Reporting by Thomas Eskrit and Sabine Siebold; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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