US debates sending Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine


The Patriot weapons system is deployed.
The Patriot weapons system is deployed. (Sebastian Apel/U.S. Department of Defense, via AP)

US debates sending Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine

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The Biden administration is contemplating sending the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine in an attempt to bolster its air defenses amid Russia’s assault on its critical infrastructure.

The United States and many other NATO allies have provided various air defense systems to Ukraine throughout the nine-month war, while Ukrainian leaders have continued to ask for more advanced systems. Western countries, including the U.S., have been hesitant to provide some weapons they fear could result in a perceived escalation or involvement from the Kremlin.


The Patriot system, which is made by Raytheon, is NATO’s most advanced surface-to-air missile defense system, as it is meant to track and intercept incoming ballistic and cruise missiles and aircraft.

When asked if the administration had thought about sending Patriot batteries to the Eastern European country, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters on Tuesday that “all capabilities are on the table. Patriot is one of the air defense capabilities that is being considered, along with all others.”

“We are looking at all the possible capabilities that could help the Ukrainians withstand Russian attacks,” the official continued. “All the capabilities are on the table, and we are looking at what the United States can do, we’re looking at what our allies and partners can do, and looking at combinations of capabilities that would be useful.”

Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder discounted the likelihood, saying hours later that “right now, we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine, but again, we’ll continue to have those discussions,” though the department has discussed “a wide variety of capabilities and support with Ukraine.”


Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a Wednesday interview on CNN, also declined to comment on whether the U.S. would provide the Patriot systems to Ukraine, though he said: “We’re working to make sure that the Ukrainians get those systems as quickly as possible, but also as effectively as possible, making sure that they are trained on them, making sure they have the ability to maintain them, and all of that has to come together, and it is.“

“At any given time, [the Ukrainians] have the most effective systems possible to deal with the threat they are facing,” he said. “We just recently, for example, provided them with a very effective system called NASAMS that they are using very effectively. Before that, of course, we had the HIMARS, which they used to great effect both in southern and eastern Ukraine.”

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