US comments on deliveries of air defense systems to Ukraine
The US is expediting the shipment of two of the eight NASAMS air defense systems it’s promised to Ukraine, White House spokesman John Kirby said on Tuesday. The announcement follows Monday’s phone call between US President Joe Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky.
Washington had approved, in late August, the delivery of National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to Kiev, with two systems expected to be delivered soon and six more arriving in the longer term.
“We think that we’re on track to get those first two over there in the very near future,” Kirby said during a briefing. “We are certainly interested in expediting the delivery of NASAMS to Ukraine as soon as we can,” he pointed out.
Biden and Zelensky talked on Monday in the wake of a massive Russian missile barrage on Ukrainian military targets and infrastructure.
During that call, the US President “pledged to continue providing Ukraine with the support needed to defend itself, including advanced air defense systems,” a summary of the conversation from the White House read.
In a tweet announcing his phone call with Biden, Zelensky also insisted that “air defense is currently the number one priority in our defense cooperation.”
According to Moscow, the strikes early on Monday were a response to “terrorist tactics” widely used by Kiev, which included the explosion at the Crimean Bridge on Saturday and attacks on other civilian infrastructure inside Russia.
The Russian military kept pounding Ukraine on Tuesday, with the defense ministry saying that its missiles had hit all intended targets and that all goals were achieved.
Washington has been Kiev’s main backer during its conflict with Moscow, providing Ukraine with more than $16.8 billion-worth of military aid, including sophisticated hardware such as HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, M777 howitzers, and combat drones.