US to send Patriot system to Ukraine


The United States for the first time will send a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine as part of a major $1.85 billion weapons package, the Pentagon revealed Wednesday.

The new lethal assistance, announced in concert with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington, D.C., includes $1 billion in presidential drawdown authority, which has the U.S. military pull weapons from its own stockpiles to send to Kyiv.

Another $850 million in assistance will come via the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, meaning the Defense Department will buy directly from industry.

The package will include one Patriot air defense battery and munitions. The vehicle-mounted system is designed to hit mid- and high-altitude targets such as missiles, fighter jets, bombers and drones in order to protect military and civilian targets. 

“Russia’s unrelenting and brutal air attacks against critical infrastructure have only reinforced the need to provide Ukraine with sophisticated air defense capabilities,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “At President Biden’s direction, the United States has prioritized the provision of air defense systems to help Ukraine defend its people from Russian aggression.” 

Ukraine is currently under a rolling barrage of Russian missile and drone strikes on its energy and electricity infrastructure, attacks that have killed civilians and badly crippled power supplies as the country sinks into winter. There are also fears Russia could launch a large winter offensive as the ground hardens.

Until now, the United States had held off on sending the Patriot system to Ukraine over fears it could escalate the war. But the Biden administration has changed its position after weeks of deliberation over the highly classified technology the weapon contains.  

The Pentagon said the Patriot will “add to a layered defense to counter the full range of threats currently menacing Ukraine’s cities and civilians” and bolster previous air defense capabilities the United States has given to the embattled country. 

The weapons package also includes additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, mortar systems and rounds, 37 Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, 120 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, six armored utility trucks; High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs), precision aerial munitions, 2,700 grenade launchers and small arms and other equipment and arms.

The United States has now committed more than $21 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since Russia first attacked the country on Feb. 24.   

Congress has also proposed $45 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine, a measure that is awaiting passage in both the House and Senate and a signature from Biden.  

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