WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Pentagon announced that it will be sending a Patriot missile system to Ukraine as part of a new $1.85 billion weapons package.
- The US administration believes that the Patriot will strengthen Ukraine’s air defense capabilities against Russia’s relentless attacks.
- The announcement came during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.
The United States has confirmed that it will send a Patriot missile system to Ukraine during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, as part of a $1.85 billion weapons package.
The new package includes $1 billion in presidential drawdown authority, which pulls U.S. military stockpiles to send to Kyiv. The Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which will have the Defense Department buy directly from the industry, will supply the other $850 million.
The package also includes a Patriot air defense system and munitions. The system aims to protect military and civilian targets by defending against mid- and high-altitude targets such as drones, missiles, bombers, and fighter jets.
In addition to the Patriot, the package also includes 2,700 grenade launchers and other equipment, 500 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds, 120 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, 37 Cougar Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, more ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), six armored utility trucks, High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs), mortar systems and rounds, and precision aerial munitions.
The Pentagon stated, “Russia’s unrelenting and brutal air attacks against critical infrastructure have only reinforced the need to provide Ukraine with sophisticated air defense capabilities. At President Biden’s direction, the United States has prioritized the provision of air defense systems to help Ukraine defend its people from Russian aggression.”
Russia has repeatedly targeted Ukraine’s energy and electricity infrastructure, causing civilian deaths and loss of power ahead of winter. Russian troops are also expected to mount a large offensive on frozen ground.
Ukraine has been pleading for more air defense systems, but the US has held off on sending the Patriot over fears of escalation. But after weeks of deliberation, the Biden administration changed its stance to presenting the system as “not escalatory” but “defensive.”
The Pentagon believes that the Patriot will strengthen Ukraine’s air defense capabilities and help “counter the full range of threats currently menacing Ukraine’s cities and civilians.”
The US has pledged over $21 billion in military aid to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion started on Feb. 24.
The omnibus spending bill being deliberated in Congress also includes $45 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine. The bill is still awaiting passage in both chambers and a signature from Biden.
Source: The Hill