Thursday, 18 July, 2024

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NATO makes ‘historic’ Ukraine air defense pledge


NATO countries have promised to provide Ukraine with five additional strategic air defense systems, in response to Kiev’s pleas to help fend off Russian airstrikes. US President Joe Biden announced the “historic donation” during a summit in Washington, where NATO leaders gathered on Tuesday to mark the 75th anniversary of the bloc. 

The US, Germany, and Romania will donate a new Patriot battery each, while the Netherlands “and other partners” will supply components to “enable the operation of an additional Patriot battery,” according to a statement signed by several NATO members and Ukraine. Italy has pledged to deliver a new SAMP-T system. 

“In addition, in the coming months, the United States and partners intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of tactical air defense systems, including NASAMS, HAWKs, IRIS T-SLM, IRIS T-SLS, and Gepard systems,” the statement read. 

Overall, Washington has promised to provide Ukraine with “hundreds of additional air defense interceptors over the next year.”

Addressing the attendees of the NATO summit, Biden said that the US will prioritize Ukraine in terms of weapons deliveries. “The United States will make sure that when we export critical defense interceptors, Ukraine goes to the front of the line. They will get this assistance before anyone else gets it,” the president said.

Biden reaffirmed the commitment to back Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. “Today NATO is stronger than it’s ever been in its history,” he added.

Kiev has warned for months that the number of anti-air systems provided so far is not nearly enough to effectively deter Russian airstrikes. Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky told NATO in April that Kiev needs at least seven additional Patriot batteries or similar weapons. Moscow has reported destroying several Patriot launchers since 2023.

Russia has maintained that the deliveries of Western weapons will lead to more escalation, but will ultimately fail to stop the Russian military from achieving its aims in the conflict. 

Credit: RT News

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