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15 Apr, 2024 12:42

Kiev asks to ‘lease’ Patriot missile systems

Ukraine is eager to receive the anti-aircraft weapons by any means necessary, its foreign minister has said
Kiev asks to ‘lease’ Patriot missile systems

Ukraine is willing to accept any conditions that Western donors attach to supplies of long-range air defense systems, Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said on national TV on Monday.

A single MIM-104 Patriot battery, which is manufactured by US arms giant Raytheon, costs over $1 billion. President Vladimir Zelensky told US media last month that Ukraine needs at least five to seven of them to protect its industrial capacity from long-range Russian strikes. Kuleba has been at the forefront of lobbying the US and its allies for more weaponry.

”Behind closed doors, I tell all of our partners: ‘My dears, anything you want. You want them to be leased, so be it. You want them to protect your border, they will. Just give them,’” Kuleba said in an interview with TSN.

He stressed that US approval is required for the transfer of any of the weapons.

”I don’t believe – and I suppose nobody in Ukraine would believe – that the huge US Army doesn’t have at least one Patriot battery [to send],” he stated.

The host of the program floated a scenario in which Poland could use its own Patriot systems to intercept Russian missiles over Ukraine. Kuleba said he considers it “realistic.”

Kiev is in negotiations with Western donors to receive two additional US-made Patriot systems and one French-Italian SAMP/T system, the foreign minister added. According to Western media, Ukraine currently operates at least three Patriot batteries and one SAMP/T. Kiev has reportedly approached Poland, Spain, and Romania for additional weapons.

Some Western officials have already publicly declined to help. Last week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Berlin’s stockpile of Patriots are “pretty much exhausted.” Poland has “nothing to give [in terms of Patriot systems] even if we wanted to,” according to President Andrzej Duda.

Moscow perceives the arming of Kiev by the West as an attempt to prolong the hostilities with Russia at the expense of Ukrainian lives. In recent weeks, the Russian military has conducted several long-range strikes on Ukrainian power stations. President Vladimir Putin said the strikes were in retaliation for Kiev’s targeting of Russian energy infrastructure with kamikaze drones, which was ramped up in January.