After long hesitation, the United States is finally ready to respond positively to Kyiv’s urgent request and supply a battery of Patriot missiles to the Ukrainian military, US media reported on Tuesday, citing unidentified officials.
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A final deal could be announced as early as this week, CNN said, after US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved it and sent it to the White House for a final green light.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called on Western capitals for modern air defense systems in recent weeks as his country has been rattled by intensified strikes from Moscow.
Russia has been increasing its bombing of Ukrainian energy infrastructure since October. Patriots, which have been widely demonstrated in Iraq and the Gulf in recent years, are weapons that can play an effective role in countering these attacks.
However, many points are unknown about the transfer of these missiles to kyiv, which, given their delicate nature, may indicate an increased commitment by the Pentagon, while Washington fears escalation by engaging precisely against Russia in a more direct way.
In particular, it remains unclear how many missiles will be delivered, where they will be deployed in Ukraine and where their Ukrainian users will be trained.
Other factors explaining Washington’s reluctance to equip Ukraine with these long-range batteries are their very high cost, their relative rarity in the Pentagon’s inventory, and the long time it took to learn how to use them.
Mounted on trucks, the Patriot consists of a radar capable of automatically detecting and intercepting an aircraft, drone or missile within a 100 km radius, three soldiers and a battery of interceptor missiles.
Note that Patriot missiles are already a key component of NATO defenses on its eastern flank.