The United States is considering sending the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine to help bolster its air defenses against an ongoing barrage of Russian strikes.
U.S. officials say that all capabilities are on the table. The Patriot missile Defense System is one of the air defense capabilities that is being considered along with all others.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said that the Department of Defense is discussing a wide variety of capabilities and support with Ukraine regarding the country’s defense needs.
“Air defense continues to be a top priority for DOD and for the international community when it comes to supporting Ukraine,” he said. “In terms of any type of Patriot battery from the U.S., right now we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine but again, we’ll continue to have those discussions.”
A senior defense official offered context about the urgency and importance of security capabilities the U.S. is supplying to Ukraine.
“As we see Russian forces struggling on the ground in recent weeks, we have also seen Russia increasingly turning to airstrikes to damage Ukraine’s energy grid infrastructure,” the official said. “These are horrific attacks to punish the Ukrainian people as winter approaches. They serve no legitimate military purpose.”
The official said that the attacks show Russia is willing to increase the risk of a nuclear attack.
Since the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February, Kyiv has repeatedly called for more Western air defense systems along with other weapons and equipment to help protect against Russian airstrikes and drone strikes.
The U.S. and other allied NATO countries have steadily provided missile defense weapons to the country, but Kyiv’s government is requesting more advanced systems that can shoot down bigger threats from further away.
Patriots are the most advanced surface-to-air missile defense systems NATO has in its repertoire. They are meant to track and take out incoming ballistic and cruise missiles and aircraft.