US to send Ukraine another Patriot missile system after call for air defences

ukraine
Us To Send Ukraine Another Patriot Missile System After Call For Air Defences
A Patriot missile mobile launcher in a field, Š Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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By Lolita C Baldor, AP Reporter

The United States will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system, two US officials have said, answering Kyiv’s desperate calls for more air defences as it battles an intense Russian assault on the north-eastern region of Kharkiv.

The officials said president Joe Biden has approved the move.

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It would be the second Patriot system that the US has given to Ukraine, although the Pentagon has routinely provided an undisclosed number of missiles for the system.

Other allies, including Germany, have also provided air defence systems as well as munitions for them.

The decision was first reported by The New York Times.

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President Volodymyr Zelensky stands in front of a Patriot air defence missile system
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stands in front of a Patriot air defence missile system (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy late last month pleaded for additional US-made Patriot systems, arguing that they will help his forces fight the close to 3,000 bombs that he said Russia launches into the country every month.

Speaking in Madrid, Mr Zelenskiy said Ukraine still urgently needs another seven of the systems to fend off Russian strikes against the power grid and civilian areas, as well as military targets, with devastating glide bombs that cause widespread destruction.

He said Ukraine needs two of the systems to protect Kharkiv, where Russia launched a cross-border offensive on May 10th that still has Ukrainian troops reeling.

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“If we had these modern Patriot systems, (Russian) airplanes wouldn’t be able to fly close enough to drop the (glide) bombs on the civilian population and the military,” Mr Zelenskiy told a news conference in the Spanish capital.

The decision comes as defence leaders from the US, Europe and other nations prepare for their monthly meeting on Ukraine’s security needs. US defence secretary Lloyd Austin will host the meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

The US has routinely pressed for allies to provide air defence systems to Ukraine, but many are reluctant to give up the high-tech systems – particularly countries in eastern Europe that also feel threatened by Russia.

The US also is wary of giving too many away, since they are used all over the world to protect US forces and allies.

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Maj Gen Pat Ryder told reporters on Monday that Ukraine’s need for air defences will be a topic at the meeting.

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