After long hesitation, the US would finally be ready to respond positively to an urgent request from Kiev and supply the Ukrainian army with a battery of Patriot missiles. The final deal could be announced as early as this week, CNN said, once US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approves it and sends it to the White House for final approval.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called on Western capitals for modern air defense systems in recent weeks as his country is under pressure from intensified attacks from Moscow.
Russia has actually increased its bombardment of Ukrainian energy infrastructure since October.
The Patriots, whose effectiveness has been widely demonstrated in recent years in Iraq and the Gulf, are weapons likely to play a useful role in countering these attacks.
However, many points are still unknown about the transfer to Kyiv of these missiles, which, due to their sophisticated nature, would mark an increased involvement from the Pentagon, while Washington precisely fears an escalation by getting involved in a more direct way against Russia.
In particular, it is unclear how many missiles will be delivered, where they will be stationed in Ukraine, and where their Ukrainian users will be trained. Among the other elements that explain 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 takes to learn how to use them.
Loaded on trucks, the Patriot consists of a radar capable of automatically detecting and intercepting an aircraft, drone or missile within a radius of more than 100 km, a surveillance post manned by three soldiers and a battery of interceptor missiles.