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HomeMarketRussia threatens that U.S. Patriot anti-missile batteries in Ukraine would be ‘priority...

Russia threatens that U.S. Patriot anti-missile batteries in Ukraine would be ‘priority targets’

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned last week that if the U.S. delivers sophisticated air defense systems to Ukraine, those systems and any crews that accompany them would be a “legitimate target” for the Russian military, a blunt threat that was quickly rejected by Washington.

The exchange of statements reflected soaring Russia-U.S. tensions amid the fighting in Ukraine, which is now in its 10th month.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the U.S. had “effectively become a party” to the war by providing Ukraine with weapons and training its troops. She added that if reports about U.S. intentions to provide Kyiv with Patriot surface-to-air missile system prove true, it would become “another provocative move by the U.S.” and broaden its involvement in the hostilities, “entailing possible consequences.”

‘I find it ironic and very telling that officials from a country that brutally attacked its neighbor — in an illegal and unprovoked invasion, through a campaign that is deliberately targeting and killing innocent civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure — that they would choose to use words like provocative to describe defensive systems that are meant to save lives and protect civilians.’


— Gen. Pat Ryder, U.S. Air Force

“Any weapons systems supplied to Ukraine, including the Patriot, along with the personnel servicing them, have been and will remain legitimate priority targets for the Russian armed forces,” Zakharova declared.

Asked about the Russian warning, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Gen. Pat Ryder responded that the U.S. was “not going to allow comments from Russia to dictate the security assistance that we provide to Ukraine.”

“I find it ironic and very telling that officials from a country that brutally attacked its neighbor — in an illegal and unprovoked invasion, through a campaign that is deliberately targeting and killing innocent civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure — that they would choose to use words like ‘provocative’ to describe defensive systems that are meant to save lives and protect civilians,” Ryder said.

U.S. officials said last Tuesday that Washington was poised to approve sending a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine, finally agreeing to an urgent request from Ukrainian leaders desperate for more robust weapons to shoot down incoming Russian missiles that have crippled much of the country’s vital infrastructure. An official announcement is expected soon.

Further context: U.S. poised to approve Patriot missile battery for Ukraine

From the archives (March 2022): U.S. sends Patriot missiles to Saudi Arabia despite deteriorating relations

Operating and maintaining a Patriot battery, manufactured by Raytheon
RTX,
-0.70%,
requires as many as 90 troops, and for months the U.S. has been reluctant to provide the complex systems because sending American forces into Ukraine to run them is a nonstarter for President Joe Biden’s administration.

Even without the presence of U.S. service members to train Ukrainians on use of the system, concerns remain that deployment of the missiles could provoke Russia or risk that a fired projectile could hit inside Russia and further escalate the conflict.

Russia has repeatedly claimed that its forces struck Western-supplied weapons in Ukraine, but those statements have been impossible to verify.

Ukraine has so far been cautious in reacting to the reports.

Hanna Maliar, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, told reporters Thursday in Kyiv that the delivery of such weaponry remains “sensitive not only for Ukraine, but for our partners,” and that only President Volodymyr Zelensky or Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov would make any official announcement on such an agreement.

White House and Pentagon leaders have said consistently that providing Ukraine with additional air defenses is a priority, and Patriot missiles have been under consideration for some time. As the winter closed in and the Russian bombardment of civilian infrastructure escalated, officials said, the idea became a higher priority.

Until now, the U.S. and other NATO allies have provided Ukraine with short- and medium-range air defense systems that can down Russian aircraft and drones but not ballistic and cruise missiles.

Credit: marketwatch.com

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