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Pentagon to ‘rush’ Patriot missiles to Ukraine in $6bn package

  • By Holly Honderich and Will Vernon
  • in Washington

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, A Patriot missile system used by Germany

The Pentagon announced it would “ship” Patriot air defense missiles and artillery munitions to Ukraine as part of its new military aid program.

However, the Patriot systems to launch the missiles will not be sent, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Patriots were “urgently” needed to deal with the growing Russian air threat and “can and must save lives right now.”

On Saturday, Ukraine said Russia had carried out another massive air attack.

Authorities in Kharkiv said a hospital was damaged. Energy facilities were attacked in three regions, Energy Minister German Galushchenko said.

Russia attacked with cruise missiles, S-300 surface-to-air missiles and Iskander ballistic missiles, Ukraine said, adding that 21 of them were shot down using aircraft, systems air defense and jamming.

Ukraine claimed to have struck two Russian oil refineries across the border. Footage filmed in Russia’s Krasnodar region appears to have caused a large explosion, although local authorities have denied significant damage.

Russian authorities announced on Saturday that they had shot down some 68 Ukrainian drones over Russian territory.

Legend, People take shelter in the kyiv metro on Saturday during a Russian missile attack

Speaking on Friday, Austin told a news conference that the United States was committed to providing the largest security assistance package to date and would “move immediately” to deliver supplies to Ukraine.

The US was using $6bn (£4.8bn) for this purpose, he said. A source confirmed to the BBC that the $6 billion was part of a $60 billion aid package signed into law by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, which also includes $1 billion in more immediate aid.

The assistance would include air defense munitions, anti-drone systems and artillery munitions, but not Patriot missile systems.

“They (the Ukrainians) not only need Patriots, they also need other types of systems and interceptors,” Austin said. “I caution us against making Patriot the silver bullet.”

Mr. Austin added that he was confident that more missile systems would soon be available for kyiv. Conversations are underway with European partners, he said, to provide additional capacity.

Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown said the aid should eliminate the need for the Ukrainians to ration their shells on the front line.

Some of the latest funding would also go towards developing Ukraine’s own defense industry, so it can start making more of the munitions it desperately needs.

Mr Austin said Russia had already increased its domestic production of artillery ammunition and other weapons – and was also supported by supplies from Iran and North Korea.

“Understand what is at stake for Ukraine, for Europe and for the United States,” he said. “If Putin wins in Ukraine, Europe will face a security threat it has never known. Russia will not stop in Ukraine.”

Asked whether U.S. aid would protect Ukrainian forces, Austin said the commitment was “material, real and substantial,” although “not instantaneous.”

“It will take some time to introduce and distribute it. The Ukrainians have managed to hold on. With this capacity, they can do much better.”

The defense secretary’s comments came as Ukraine warned Friday that Russia was stepping up attacks on its railways.

A Ukrainian security source told the AFP news agency that Moscow wanted to damage Ukraine’s railway infrastructure to “paralyze deliveries and movements of military goods.”

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aid package was the largest given to Ukraine to date.

Ukraine has only a handful of Patriots to complement other Western missile defense systems and existing stockpiles of Soviet-era surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), such as the S-300.

The Patriots are the most capable and expensive air defense systems Ukraine has. Each Patriot battery costs around $1bn (£800m) and each missile costs almost $4m.

Germany has already promised an additional Patriot system – and its defense and foreign ministers called on their European counterparts earlier this month to respond urgently.

Greece has stockpiles of the Patriot and S-300, but has said none can be spared.

“We have explained why we cannot do it,” Greek Prime Minister Kyrios Mitsotakis told Skai TV. He said his country’s air defenses were “critical systems for the protection of Greek airspace.”

According to some reports, Spain will provide some Patriot missiles, but not a complete system.

In recent months, kyiv has stepped up calls for Western help as its munitions stocks run out and Russia makes steady progress.

Ukrainian officials have blamed the loss of life and territory on delays in military aid from the United States and other Western allies.

News Source :
Gn world

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