WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is 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 attacks, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The approval is likely to come later this week and could be announced as early as Thursday, said three officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision is not final and has not been made public. Two of the officials said the Patriot will come from Pentagon stocks and moved from another country overseas.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pressed Western leaders as recently as Monday to provide more advanced weapons to help his country in its war with Russia. Providing Patriot surface-to-air missiles would advance the kinds of defense systems the West is sending to help Ukraine repel Russian aerial attacks, and could mark an escalation.
During a video conference on Monday Zelenskyy told host Germany and other leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers that his country needed long-range missiles, modern tanks, artillery and missile batteries and other high-tech air defense systems to counter Russian attacks that have knocked out electricity and water supplies for millions of Ukrainians.
He acknowledged that, “Unfortunately, Russia still has an advantage in artillery and missiles.” And he said that protecting Ukraine’s energy facilities from Russian missiles and Iranian drones “will be the protection of the whole of Europe, since with these strikes Russia is provoking a humanitarian and migration catastrophe not only for Ukraine, but also for the entire EU.”
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. One of the officials said that as the winter closed in that consideration took on increased priority.
The administration’s potential approval of a Patriot battery was first reported by CNN.