News ID: 110187
Publish Date : 14 December 2022 - 21:10

Russia: U.S. Patriot Systems Legitimate Target

MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- The Kremlin said on Wednesday that U.S. Patriot missile defense systems would be a legitimate target for Russian strikes against Ukraine, should the U.S. authorize them to be delivered to support Kyiv.
Washington is finalizing plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, a decision that could be announced as soon as this week, three U.S. officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Patriots would “definitely” be a target for Russia, but that he would not comment on unconfirmed media reports.
The Patriot is considered to be one of the most advanced U.S. air defense systems, including against aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. It typically includes launchers along with radar and other support vehicles.
The Pentagon says Russia’s recent surge in missile strikes in Ukraine is partly designed to exhaust Kyiv’s supplies of air defenses so it can dominate the skies above the country. For that reason, the U.S. and its allies have been delivering more air defenses for Kyiv.
For the U.S., this has included NASAMS air defense systems that the Pentagon says have flawlessly intercepted Russian missiles in Ukraine. Washington has so far provided Ukraine with $19.3 billion in military assistance since the start of the conflict.
The approval is likely to come later this week and could be announced as early as Thursday, the three officials. Two of the officials said the Patriot will come from Pentagon stocks and be moved from another country overseas.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pressed Western leaders as recently as Monday to provide more advanced weapons. The Patriot would be the most advanced surface-to-air missile system the West has provided to Ukraine to help repel Russian aerial attacks.
Zelensky told host Germany and other leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers that his country needed long-range missiles, modern tanks, artillery, missile batteries and other high-tech air defense systems to counter Russian attacks.
He acknowledged that, “Unfortunately, Russia still has an advantage in artillery and missiles.”
In a video message from Kyiv, Zelensky said Tuesday that Ukraine needed assistance worth around 800 million euros in the short term for its battered energy sector.
European Union foreign ministers also agreed to put another two billion euros into a fund used to pay for military support for Ukraine.
The fund has been largely depleted after almost ten months of war. Meeting in Brussels, the ministers said further top-ups are also possible.
Pentagon and State Department officials at briefings on Tuesday would not confirm the plan to provide Patriots to Ukraine, repeatedly saying they had nothing to announce.
U.S. officials had balked at providing the weapons to Ukraine because they could be considered an escalation that would trigger a response from Moscow. The Patriot also requires significant training and there were concerns that U.S. troops would have been required to operate it. President Joe Biden has flatly rejected sending any U.S. combat troops to Ukraine.
Currently U.S. forces are training Ukrainian troops on a number of systems, including the HIMARS, in other European countries, such as Germany.
The administration’s potential approval of a Patriot battery was first reported by CNN.
According to officials, the U.S. plan would be to send one Patriot battery. A truck-mounter Patriot battery includes up to eight launchers, each of which can hold four missiles.
The entire system, which includes a phased array radar, a control station, computers and generators, typically requires about 90 soldiers to operate and maintain, however only three soldiers are needed to actually fire it, according to the Army.
Patriot missile systems and other similar sophisticated surface-to-air weapons are in major demand among U.S. allies, including eastern European nations worried that they could be Russia’s next targets. The U.S. has a limited number of the systems, and has deployed them across the Middle East and Europe in recent years to help allies protect against the threat of incoming ballistic missiles.