US to send second Patriot missile battery to Ukraine amid attacks: Reports

The United States will send another Patriot missile system to Ukraine as the country struggles with continued Russian bombardment on its cities and energy infrastructure.

President Biden approved the system’s deployment last week after several high-level meetings, The New York Times first reported.

Washington has since informed some allies of its decision to send Ukraine the additional battery, which will come from an airfield in southeastern Poland used by the U.S. military to send weapons and supplies to Kyiv’s forces, The Washington Post later reported.

Speaking to reporters from Brussels on Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin would not confirm reports but said air defense for Ukraine remains a top priority.

“Air defense has been at the top of my agenda for a long time,” Austin said after a meeting with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, a U.S.-led coalition of more than 50 countries aimed at arming Ukraine in its more than two year war with Russia.

“I don’t have any announcements on Patriot batteries today, but what I can tell you is that I continue to work this, and I’m in constant contact with my Ukrainian counterpart, and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure they have the capability that they need and that we get it there as quickly as we can,” he continued.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for months has pressed the U.S. for more air defenses as his country continues to face regular attacks from Russian forces.

U.S. forces have kept multiple Patriot batteries at the staging location in Poland since the start of the conflict in February 2022. Washington plans to backfill the system moved to Ukraine with another Patriot from elsewhere in the world, according to the Post.

Ukraine views the Patriot as especially important as it’s the only system that has been able to shoot down hypersonic missiles Moscow has aimed at the country. The Patriot also is particularly valuable in protecting troops, cities and power facilities as Moscow continues to lob missiles and drones at those targets.

On Wednesday alone, Russia sent cruise missiles and drones across Ukraine, with air defense units successfully downing 29 of 30 incoming targets, according to the country’s air force.

And hours later, Moscow launched another missile attack on Kryvyi Rih, Zelensky’s hometown. At least nine people were killed in that barrage.

“Every day and every hour, Russian terror proves that Ukraine must strengthen its air defense with the support of our partners,” Zelensky wrote on social platform X afterward. “Modern air defense systems can ensure maximum protection for our people, cities, and positions. We need them urgently.”

Outside of the U.S., Germany has delivered two Patriot systems to Ukraine and has announced plans to soon deliver a third. The Netherlands also pledged to build a Patriot system for Kyiv.

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