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FT: US to redirect Patriot air defense orders to Ukraine until it has enough to defend itself

Systems destined for other countries will be diverted to help Kyiv protect its cities and critical infrastructure, with the US government set to halt all open orders until Ukraine has enough to defend itself from Russia’s air attacks.
Patriot air defense system, illustrative image. Photo via Eastnews.ua.
Patriot air defense system, illustrative image. Photo via Eastnews.ua.
FT: US to redirect Patriot air defense orders to Ukraine until it has enough to defend itself

Three people with knowledge of the decision said to the Financial Times that the US government is set to halt all open orders for Patriot air defense systems and interceptor missiles until Ukraine has enough to defend itself from Russia’s air attacks.

As reported by the Financial Times, the decision could be announced on Thursday 20 June.

This comes after US President Joe Biden said last week in Italy that he had secured commitments for the delivery of additional air defense systems to Ukraine. These would include Patriot missile batteries for which Kyiv has been clamoring after Russia escalated missile and drone attacks on its power plants.

Biden said five countries had agreed to send Patriot and other air defense systems to Ukraine, and that other countries expecting the delivery of the US systems would have to wait because “everything we have is going to go to Ukraine until their needs are met.”

Standing beside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy after the two signed a 10-year defense pact on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Puglia, Biden added that Kyiv would begin receiving more systems “relatively quickly.”

The US announcement on Thursday will codify Biden’s commitment to Kyiv and ensure that Ukraine gets the Patriot systems it needs to protect its cities and critical infrastructure, two of the people with knowledge of the decision told the Financial Times.

The most advanced air defense weapons

The US-made Patriot systems are Washington’s most advanced air defense weapons. They consist of a radar system and mobile launchers that can fire interceptor missiles at incoming projectiles or aircraft.

Zelenskyy has called them “the most effective air defense system in the world today”, and said they were capable of shooting down all Russian missiles, including ballistic ones.

Ukraine at present has at least four Patriot systems. Since Zelenskyy made a plea for additional deliveries this spring, Germany has said it would send an additional battery, and the Netherlands announced an initiative to send another based on components supplied by multiple countries. Biden then approved the deployment of another Patriot air defense system to Ukraine last week.

The Patriot systems and their interceptor missiles have helped protect key government buildings and critical infrastructure in Kyiv and other cities across the country.

Russia targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure

Zelenskyy said that “Ukraine is now suffering from the most destructive form of Russia’s vision of energy as a weapon.”

Russian attacks have destroyed more than 9 gigawatts of Ukraine’s power generation capacity in recent months, said Zelenskyy, adding that peak energy consumption in Ukraine last winter was 18GW. “So, half of it does not exist any more.”

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said early this month that the consequences of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy sector were “long-term” and that saving power “will be part of our daily life in the years to come”.

As Russia’s air attacks continued this week, Serhiy Kovalenko, chief executive of electricity provider Yasno, warned Ukrainians that they faced a realistic possibility of having electricity for just six to seven hours per day next winter.

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