The U.S. government is mulling sending the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine to help bolster its air defenses against an ongoing barrage of Russian strikes, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters.
“All capabilities are on the table,” the official said when asked if the Biden administration was considering sending Patriot batteries to Ukraine. “Patriot is one of the air defense capabilities that is being considered along with all others.”
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder later told reporters that the Department of Defense (DOD) is discussing “a wide variety of capabilities and support with Ukraine,” regarding the country’s defense needs.
“Air defense continues to be a top priority for DOD and for the international community when it comes to supporting Ukraine,” he added. “In terms of any type of Patriot battery from the U.S., right now we have no plans to provide Patriot batteries to Ukraine but again, we’ll continue to have those discussions.”
Since the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine in February, Kyiv has repeatedly called for more Western air defense systems along with other weapons and equipment to help keep Kremlin missile and drone strikes at bay.
The U.S. and other NATO countries have steadily poured such weapons into the country — including the recent shipment of the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System to Ukraine earlier this month — but Kyiv’s government is requesting more advanced systems that can shoot down bigger threats from further away.
Patriots, made by U.S. firm Raytheon, are the most advanced surface-to-air missile defense systems NATO has in its repertoire, as they are meant to track and take out incoming ballistic and cruise missiles and aircraft.
“We are looking at all the possible capabilities that could help the Ukrainians withstand Russian attacks,” the senior official said. “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.”