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Kuleba: Ukraine wants at least 7 Patriot air defense systems

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Kyiv has identified over 100 available Patriot air defense systems held by allies, urging the transfer of at least 7 systems to bolster Ukraine’s defenses against Russian aerial bombardment. “I feel like hitting the wall. I just don’t understand why it’s not happening”
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. Credit: Oksana Parafeniuk for The Washington Post
Kuleba: Ukraine wants at least 7 Patriot air defense systems

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview for the Washington Post (WP) published on 10 April that Ukraine needs at least seven Patriot air defense systems.

Ukraine received its first US-designed air defense system, Patriot, last summer. However, three Patriots are insufficient to defend the entire country against aerial bombardment. Russia has increased the size and the scale of the attacks on Ukraine since last month, targeting mostly Ukraine’s energy and electricity infrastructure. The strikes are causing power outages in some cities, including Kharkiv.

WP reported, citing Kuleba, that Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry found over 100 available Patriots that its allies have. President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine needs 26 to create a total air shield over Ukraine, but “Kuleba is initially focused on obtaining seven as quickly as possible.”

“Kyiv had identified four other countries in Europe and Asia that have Patriots that could be transferred immediately to Ukraine,” Kuleba said.

However, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said he “struggles to understand” the resistance from some countries to transferring at least one of their systems to Ukraine.

Kuleba also said in the interview that “nice and quiet diplomacy doesn’t work” anymore when asking for air defense in the Allies.

Kuleba also mentioned that his rhetoric changed two weeks ago when people in Kyiv were startled by explosions less than a minute after hearing an air raid siren signaling a possible attack.

Then Russia deployed ballistic missiles, which Ukraine’s defense downed with missiles from a Patriot. “If this could happen in Kyiv, Ukraine’s best-protected city, imagine the terror faced by everyone living outside of the capital,” Kuleba said.

Kyiv is focusing its requests for more air defenses on the Patriot because it is the only weapon that can intercept and destroy Russian hypersonic ballistic missiles, such as the Kinzhal.

In a recent meeting in Brussels marking NATO’s 75th anniversary, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister firmly pressed allies for more Patriot air defense systems, according to reports.

“I’m sorry to spoil the birthday party, but who can believe that the mightiest military alliance in the world cannot find seven batteries of Patriots to provide them to the only country in the world that is fighting ballistic attacks every day?” he said then.

Kuleba joked that ministers without Patriot batteries were the “luckiest” at the meeting, remarking, “But those who do, they do feel uncomfortable.” He has even pitched countries on loaning Patriot systems to Ukraine, with a promise to return them promptly when requested.

Ukraine leaves NATO birthday party with promises of air defense, but not membership

Expressing deep frustration, Kuleba stated, “I feel myself hitting the wall with my own head, although I’m a diplomat, and that means I have to dismantle the wall brick by brick. But since this kind of diplomacy doesn’t work, I feel like hitting the wall. I just don’t understand why it’s not happening.”

Kuleba argued that complacency has set in regarding the war in Ukraine, saying, “The problem is that people just got used to the war happening somewhere out there. The feeling that extraordinary decisions are needed on a regular basis to end this war with a victory for Ukraine is gone.”

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