CNN’s chief Pentagon correspondent is reporting the breaking news based on multiple anonymous US defense officials – including a senor Biden administration official – that the White House is currently finalizing plans to send Patriot missile defense systems to Ukraine.
„The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine that could be announced as soon as this week, according to two US officials and a senior administration official,“ CNN writes. „The three officials told CNN that approval is expected.“
If approved, this could be a tipping point in the conflict leading to direct confrontation between nuclear-armed powers given transfer of Patriots would mark the longest-range missiles sent to Ukraine thus far.
Washington has so far been reluctant, despite Kiev officials since nearly the start of the invasion making repeat pleas for the US to help „close the sky“ – as President Zelensky many months ago urged Congress.
As The Guardian reviewed of the dangers involved in sending the Patriot:
„Long sought by the Ukrainians, the missiles have a range of up to 300km, but so far the US and its allies, including the UK, have declined to supply them because they could be used to hit targets inside Russia. Supplying them would help „bring the war to an end as soon as possible“, Johnson said.
Patriots have long been deployed in neighboring Poland, but Ukrainian leaders have been persistent in requesting them on their own soil amid a major uptick in recent Russian aerial attacks. Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson this week urged in a Wall Street Journal op-ed for the West to get serious about supplying Patriots and other anti-air systems, even including military aircraft.
It’s likely to take some time to deploy the Patriots, given Ukrainians are expected to be trained on operating the sophisticated systems at the US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, per officials cited by CNN. In the meantime Moscow is likely to react fiercely to the news, which could result in more intense and escalatory airstrikes on Ukrainian cities, and command and control bases. Washington, for its part will likely emphasize the purely „defensive“ nature of the Patriot systems.