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Ukraine needs 12 Patriot systems to protect all territory – Zelenskyy staffer

Adviser Mykhailo Podoliak contends bolstering Ukraine’s air defenses now is cheaper than rebuilding later as Russia batters civilian areas
Patriot ukraine air defense
Patriot SAMs in Ukraine. Photo: Oleksiy Reznikov via X
Ukraine needs 12 Patriot systems to protect all territory – Zelenskyy staffer

Ukraine requires a significant increase in air defense systems, including up to 12 Patriot launchers, to defend all its major cities from Russian missile threats, Mykhailo Podoliak, a key adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told The Guardian.

Podoliak stated that recent strikes on Odesa demonstrated Russia’s strategy of using overwhelming drone and missile barrages to overwhelm Ukrainian air defenses. “Russia’s tactics are clear: they use massive drone attacks to overload our anti-aircraft systems and then in parallel they have a window of opportunity to use ballistic missiles to target infrastructure,” he remarked.

While sophisticated, multilayered defenses have repelled Russian aerial assaults on Kyiv, other cities like Odesa remain vulnerable. Podoliak noted that Ukraine currently has just two Patriot systems, one from the US and one from Germany, which are unable to counter modern Russian missiles. “We don’t have enough modern anti-aircraft systems like Patriot, that are able to hit the latest generation Russian missiles like Oniks and Kinzhal,” he explained.

As Russia intensifies attacks on civilian infrastructure, Podoliak argued procuring more air defense is urgently needed both militarily and economically. “It will be a lot more expensive to fix all of this later than to provide a Patriot system to defend the south,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s army continues its counteroffensive to dislodge entrenched Russian forces from occupied areas. Progress has been slow thus far, but Podoliak dismissed notions that lack of gains could spur pressure for Ukraine to negotiate a settlement.

Podoliak contended Russia’s strikes aimed to create “Ukraine fatigue” and prod Kyiv’s allies into pushing negotiations. However, he said Zelensky is convincing Western leaders supporting Ukraine remains sensible financially and morally. Ukraine is requesting specific weapons to assist its counteroffensive against fortified Russian troops.

“We understand that if you are a long way away from the war and your electorate is saying internal prices are more important it’s hard to think about war,” Podoliak remarked, while arguing a “frozen conflict” is costlier long-term than helping Ukraine prevail.

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