US to Deliver One More Patriot System to Ukraine

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Last month, President Zelensky said that Ukraine urgently needed seven Patriot SAMs. The US will send another Patriot surface-to-air missile system to Ukraine, responding to Kyiv’s insistence on additional air defense equipment. This was reported by two U.S. officials, who said President Joe Biden had approved the transfer. This will be the second Patriot system handed over by the US to Ukraine, although the Pentagon has regularly supplied an unspecified number of missiles for these systems. Other allies, including Germany, also supplied air defense systems and ammunition. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision was not publicly announced. In late May, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for additional Patriot systems. According to him, Russia strikes about 3,000 bombs on Ukraine every month, and Patriot systems will help Ukraine’s military to counter the bombings. While in Madrid, Zelensky said Ukraine urgently needs seven more such systems to repel Russian strikes on power grids and civilian areas as well as military facilities. According to him, Ukraine needs two systems to defend Kharkiv oblast, where Russia launched a cross-border offensive on 10 May that created a difficult situation for Ukrainian military. “If we had these modern Patriot systems, [Russian] planes would not be able to fly close enough to drop smart bombs on civilians and the military,” Zelensky told a news conference in the Spanish capital. The US decision came to light as defense leaders from the USA, Europe and other countries are preparing for a monthly meeting on Ukraine’s security issues. The meeting will be held in Brussels on Thursday under the chairmanship of US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The US is pressing allies to provide air defense systems to Ukraine, but many are reluctant to give up high-tech systems, especially Eastern European countries that feel threatened by Russia. The US is also wary of handing over too many systems as they are used around the world to protect US troops and allies. Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said Monday that Ukraine’s air defense needs would be one of the topics of discussion at the meeting.