Zelensky said that the Patriot missiles promised by the US would help Ukraine build an effective air defense shield against Russian air attacks.
“The most important component of this aid package are batteries of Patriot missiles, which can significantly increase Ukraine’s air defense capabilities.
This is a very important step to protect our airspace. “, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at a press conference with his US counterpart Joe Biden at the White House on December 21.
Zelensky said that Patriot missiles are “the only way to prevent the enemy from using the tool of intimidation,” referring to Russian air strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
President Biden affirmed that Patriot is a defense system and that the move to provide this weapon to Ukraine is not escalation. “We’re very happy if they don’t have to go to war, stop the attacks,” he added.
The White House said that President Biden would announce a new security assistance package worth nearly two billion dollars for Ukraine, including providing a Patriot air defense system and training of operations forces.
The announcement came during President Zelensky’s visit to the United States, his first foreign trip since the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine.
Up to eight ammunition trucks and launchers, each capable of holding four missile rounds, are part of each Patriot battery, along with a target detection and tracking radar, computers, power generation equipment, a command centre, and the missiles itself.
In terms of effectiveness, this will be the most potent long-range defence complex ever given to Ukraine. However, servicing and maintaining the Patriot complexes in Ukraine presents a massive logistical task in and of itself.
A single Patriot battery, in contrast to shorter and medium-range air defence systems, takes dozens of men to operate. Training teams to operate Patriot missiles might take several months.
The Kremlin has warned that US Patriot systems will be a legitimate target if they appear in Ukraine. Russia also accused the US of increasing the risk of direct conflict by increasing arms aid to Ukraine.
American experts believe that the Patriot system will significantly improve the combat capability of Ukraine’s air defense against Russian attacks but admit that the warning from Moscow shows great challenges for this complex when deployed in a complex combat environment like Ukraine.
The US is the country that supports Ukraine most actively and also tries to lead its allies to punish Russia for its military campaign. Washington has provided an estimated $50 billion in assistance, including about $20 billion in security assistance, to help Ukraine counter Russian forces.