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13 Apr, 2024 08:47

Kiev pressing individual EU states for air defenses – FT

Ukraine’s earlier pleas for seven Patriot systems were rejected, despite the EU having more than 100
Kiev pressing individual EU states for air defenses – FT

Ukraine is pressing Poland, Spain, and Romania for air defense systems after other Western states spurned its requests, the Financial Times claimed on Friday, citing sources close to the discussions. This comes after a recent wave of Russian airstrikes against the country’s energy infrastructure.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has increasingly requested US-made Patriot surface-to-air batteries from his Western sponsors. These appeals, against the backdrop of Russian airstrikes, have become routine, Zelensky said on Thursday at the Three Seas Summit in Vilnius. “Missiles are striking every day, and every day we hear that Ukraine will receive new air defense systems,” he said, insisting that “the reality must finally match the words.”

Meanwhile, Kiev is approaching Poland and Spain for a single Patriot battery from each, and for a French-Italian SAMP/T system from Romania, the Financial Times wrote on Friday, citing anonymous officials.

Ukraine is currently in possession of at least three Patriot batteries and one SAMP/T, the newspaper said.

Thus far, the US, Germany, and the Netherlands have handed over several Patriot launchers to Ukraine. Germany has donated two Patriot batteries, but has said it will not provide any more for now. Berlin’s stocks of Patriot systems are “pretty much exhausted,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Tuesday.

Poland has also said it cannot spare its air defense systems. “We are just starting the building of that system in Poland; that system is absolutely not yet ready in Poland,” President Andrzej Duda said at the summit in Vilnius, adding that Warsaw “has nothing to give, even if we wanted to.”

Kiev’s Western allies have promised air defense systems but failed to deliver, according to FT. EU High Representative Josep Borrell, speaking on Tuesday, said it is “inconceivable” that EU states cannot provide Patriot batteries to Kiev “given that the Western armies have about 100 batteries of Patriot,” while Ukraine is only asking for seven.

Russia delivered one massive strike and 47 combined strikes against Ukrainian fuel, energy, and military-industrial sites over the past week, the Russian Defense Ministry stated on Friday. According to President Vladimir Putin, Moscow refrained from targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure during the winter for humanitarian reasons, but was forced to retaliate after Kiev’s strikes on Russian fuel facilities.

Moscow has warned that Western arms shipments to Kiev will not alter the course of the conflict, and only serve to prolong the fighting and raise the risk of a direct clash between Russia and NATO. However, the US-led military bloc’s intelligence-sharing, provision of arms, and training of Ukrainian troops already means that Western nations are party to the conflict, Moscow has said.

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