NATO allies commit to sending dozens of air defense systems to Ukraine, including four Patriots

WASHINGTON — (AP) — The U.S. and an array of other NATO allies will send Ukraine dozens of air defense systems in the coming months, including at least four of the powerful Patriot systems that Kyiv has been desperately seeking to help fight off Russian advances in the war, according to a new joint agreement.

“Today I’m announcing a historic donation of air defense equipment for Ukraine,” President Joe Biden said Tuesday at the opening of the NATO summit in Washington. “The United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Italy will provide Ukraine with the equipment for five additional strategic air defense systems.”

In addition, he said that in the coming months the United States and others will provide dozens of other tactical air defense systems and hundreds of munitions for them.

The announcement was made with much fanfare as the summit opened at the Mellon Auditorium, where the North Atlantic Treaty was first signed in 1949, establishing NATO. There both Biden and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke urgently about the importance of the alliance and the need to stand together in support of Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants nothing less than to “wipe Ukraine off the map,” Biden said. “And we know Putin won’t stop in Ukraine. But make no mistake, Ukraine can and will stop Putin.”

According to the joint statement released Tuesday, the U.S., Germany and Romania will send Ukraine additional Patriot batteries, while the Netherlands and others will provide Patriot components to make up one more battery. Italy will provide a SAMP-T air defense system.

Other allies, including Canada, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom, will provide a number of other systems that will help Ukraine expand its coverage. Those systems include NASAMS, HAWKs, IRIS T-SLM, IRIS T-SLS and Gepards. And other nations have agreed to provide munitions for those systems.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a social media post on Tuesday, made it clear that air defense is still his country's key request, and he has repeatedly asked for more Patriot systems.

“We are fighting for more air defense systems for Ukraine, and I’m confident we will succeed,” he said. “We are also striving to secure more aircraft, including F-16s. Additionally, we are pushing for enhanced security guarantees for Ukraine, including weapons, financial aid, and political support.”

Earlier this year, he said Ukraine urgently needs seven more Patriot batteries to fend off Russian strikes against the power grid, the military and civilian areas using destructive glide bombs.

The Patriot systems, he said, would help prevent Russian aircraft from flying close enough to drop the glide bombs on civilians and critical infrastructure. He said Russia had been firing 3,000 bombs into his country each month.

The commitment for new air defense systems comes as Russia continues its relentless bombardment of Ukraine, including a massive barrage that struck a children’s hospital in Kyiv on Monday and killed at least 42 people.

On Tuesday, Zelenskyy urged “decisive actions" from the U.S. and Europe to strengthen his troops and vowed to do everything possible to defeat Russia.

The United States has already sent Ukraine two Patriot missile systems — one late last year and, according to U.S. officials, another last month. And Romania's top defense body said late last month that the country would donate a Patriot missile system to neighboring Ukraine.

A number of European allies have been reluctant to part with their air defense systems, as they worry about possible threats from Russia as well.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin two years ago set up a coalition of more than 50 countries to help gather and coordinate contributions of weapons and training to Ukraine.

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