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Ukraine struggles to secure more Patriots from allies amid escalated Russian air attacks

So far, Germany remains the only country to respond to Ukraine’s urgent request for additional Patriot systems amid intensified Russian aerial attacks. Other countries have failed to make similar pledges ahead of the upcoming Ramstein meeting, which is expected to address military aid coordination for Ukraine.
A launcher of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.
Ukraine struggles to secure more Patriots from allies amid escalated Russian air attacks

Since March, Russia has escalated aerial bombardments, targeting Ukraine’s energy grid and residential areas in major cities like Kharkiv, depleting Ukraine’s air defense capabilities. In response, Ukraine has called on its allies to supply additional air defense systems. Ukraine’s long-range air defenses are primarily based on the S-300, with several additional Western-made systems, transferred in 2023.

So far, Germany is the only country to pledge additional long-range air defense systems to help protect Ukraine amid heightened Russian aerial attacks, promising to supply an extra long-range Patriot system and the medium-range Iris-T. Meanwhile, other countries with US-made Patriots or Soviet-era S-300 systems remain hesitant to part with them, fearing they might compromise their national defenses.

Earlier this month, Zelenskyy said he would not reveal how many Patriot systems Ukraine has, but noted that ideally, to fully cover the country’s air space in the future, it would need 25 systems, each with 6-8 batteries. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told WP he has been initially focused on obtaining seven as quickly as possible.

Germany to supply Patriot

Ukraine currently possesses at least three US-made Patriot systems, one provided by the US and two by Germany. Last week, Berlin announced plans to supply an additional Patriot battery. Other EU nations, including Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Sweden, also have Patriot systems but have not agreed to transfer theirs to Ukraine so far.

Ukraine will also receive an additional German Iris-T SLM air defense system within weeks, Diehl Defence chief Helmut Rauch toldBild, noting that three systems are already in Ukraine, with more deliveries planned for this year.

German IRIS-T surface-to-air missile system. Credit: Ukrinform

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated on 19 April that he anticipates new pledges of air defense supplies will be announced soon, although he did not specify the countries or types of weaponry involved.

EU ministers failed to pledge more air defenses for Ukraine

On 22 April, European Union ministers emphasized the urgency of providing more air defenses to Ukraine but stopped short of making specific commitments regarding the highly valued Patriot systems, Reuters reported. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed frustration over the lack of additional pledges, emphasizing the need for greater support for Kyiv.

Reuters says countries with US-made Patriots, which Ukraine values for their ability to intercept fast-moving ballistic missiles, did not commit to providing these systems. Officials noted the difficulty in parting with Patriots as they are essential for national defenses.

EU and NATO pressure Greece and Spain to provide Ukraine with air defenses

Germany is the only country that has announced a shipment of one Patriot system to Ukraine. Meanwhile, other EU leaders used a summit in Brussels last week to personally urge Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, whose forces collectively have more than a dozen Patriot systems and other systems like the S-300, to donate some to Ukraine, FT reported referring to people briefed on the discussions. The leaders were told their need was not as urgent as Ukraine’s and that they faced no imminent threat.

Ukraine’s S-300PT surface-to-air missile launcher at the Independence Day parade in Kyiv on 24 August 2018. Photo: Glavcom

According to FT, officials stated that due to Poland and Romania’s more vulnerable positions on the border with Ukraine, less pressure is being applied on them to consider shipments to Kyiv. These two also possess Patriot systems.

On 22 April, after a meeting of EU ministers, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares stated,

“We are well aware of Ukraine’s need for air defense, especially Patriots, and Spain has always done whatever it could,” he said, adding: “Since this is a real war, I’m not in favor of disclosing too much about what we give, when, and from where.

Greece has been reluctant to send its large-scale defense systems, such as Patriots or S-300s, or jets to Ukraine, mainly due to tensions with Türkiye, although it has supplied arms and ammunition.

There won’t be any move that would even minimally endanger the country’s deterrent capability or air defense,” Greek government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis stated in Athens, after being asked if Greece was planning to send S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to Ukraine, as per Reuters.

Poland says it can’t donate its Patriot, protecting major aid hub near Ukraine’s border

Rzeczpospolita reported on 22 April that when asked about transferring Patriot anti-missile launcher batteries to Ukraine, Polish PM Donald Tusk said that Poland could not help.

As far as the Patriot battery is concerned, we have no such possibility,” Tusk replied, adding: “The battery in Rzeszów protects a key hub, from the Ukrainian point of view, in southeastern Poland,” he said, adding that the battery is in Poland as a guest and is under US control.

US may replenish Ukraine’s Patriot munition stocks

Previous US aid packages to Ukraine included air defense interceptors, and similarly, the new US assistance package is expected to include surface-to-air missiles to replenish Ukraine’s depleted stocks. The US House of Representatives approved this aid package on 20 April, and it is scheduled for consideration in the Senate on 23 April.

US military aid could reach Ukraine within week after approval – WP

Sweden doesn’t exclude sending Ukraine a Patriot

Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson stated that Stockholm has agreed to supply Ukraine with air defense weapons, including the RBS 70 portable system. When asked if Sweden would also provide Patriots, the defense minister said:

“I don’t exclude that possibility but right now we’re focused on a financial contribution but also possibly (more) RBS 70 because that could alleviate some of the pressure on the Patriots,” Jonson said.

Norway to allocate funds to bolster Ukraine’s air defense

Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced to the TV2 media outlet that Norway will make new contributions, including funding, to enhance Ukraine’s air defense. While Støre mentioned that “significant sums” are involved, he did not specify the exact amounts or the breakdown between financial support and military equipment, The Guardian reported.

Norwegian PM Støre mentioned that details on funding these efforts would be discussed when presenting the revised budget. He emphasized the financial burden of defense efforts by stating,

“It is expensive, but preserving peace and freedom costs money. Those who pay the highest price are Ukraine and Ukrainians.”

Støre also pointed out the logistical challenges, explaining that producing air defenses takes time, necessitating the use of air defenses from existing stockpiles.

More air defense pledges may be announced at Ramstein meeting

Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren stated that the Ramstein group, which consists of countries supplying military aid to Ukraine, will meet at the end of the week. This meeting will offer another chance for governments to announce their pledges, including those related to air defense equipment, The Guardian said.

As announced by Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder on 22 April, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. CQ Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will host the 21st Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting, also known as a Ramstein Format meeting, on 26 April. The group, consisting of 50 nations, has stood united against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine for two years.

Read the follow-up article:

Ukraine in talks about four Patriot batteries as media says Greece ready to lend one

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