Monday, April 29, 2024

U.S. and European Allies Say No More Patriot Missiles For Ukraine: Will Spain and Japan Fill In?

Military Watch:

U.S. and European Allies Say No More Patriot Missiles For Ukraine: Will Spain and Japan Fill In?


Missile Batteries From Patriot System

Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Jake Sullivan has confirmed that the United States will be unable to provide new MIM-104 Patriot long range air defence systems to Ukraine, following pressure from European allies to supply the systems and requests from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for “at least seven”new units. 

“The U.S. Patriot systems right now are being deployed around the world, including in the Middle East, to protect U.S. troops,” Sullivan stated.“If we can unlock further American Patriot batteries we would send them. But we are doing a lot of the supplying of the actual missiles that go into those batteries that get fired,” he added, noting that officials were nevertheless working around the clock to arrange for allied European countries to provide their own air defence assets to Ukraine. 

“In the meantime, what we’re going to do is work with European partners and partners in other parts of the world to get them to provide additional air defence capability to Ukraine,” the official clarified.

Ukraine’s requirements for new air defences have grown considerably as it’s massive Soviet arsenals built around the S-300 system have become increasingly depleted, and cannot be replaced as such systems are only produced in Russia. 

This has allowed Russian air units to play an increasingly central role in shaping the outcome of frontline hostilities, with mass use of glide bombs confirmed by Western observers on the front line to be pivotal, complementing Russian forces’ growing artillery superiority as Ukrainian artillery supplies run desperately low.

Missile Battery From Patriot System in Germany

From October 2023 the deployment of new Patriot, THAAD, and other surface to air missile assets to the Middle East as part of a broader surge in the American military presence in the region brought to light the tremendous and growing strain on the country’s air defences worldwide. 

Jake Sullivan’s comments were thus far from unexpected, although the possibility of European states stepping up with their Patriot missile supplies remains limited. 

While Germany has been particularly active and seeking to place pressure Washington to supply Patriot systems, on April 9 German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock confirmed regarding her own country’s capacity: “Unfortunately, the stocks, especially our own Patriot systems, are now pretty much exhausted. Therefore I made it clear at a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting that we need to check the availability of all Patriot systems in Europe and globally, and that we will make every effort to obtain these systems for Ukraine.” Germany alongside the Netherlands were the first European countries to supply Patriot systems to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Patriot System Milliseconds Before Iskander Strike

Baerbock’s statement was followed by confirmation from Polish officials confirming that the country also had no capacity to spare air defence systems for export. Spain, however, which fields 18 Patriot batteries, has confirmed that it can supply multiple mobile missile launchers to Ukraine, with Madrid also taking the lead in supplying new Leopard 2 tanks to replenish Ukrainian losses

Japan, too, is currently preparing to sell its Patriot systems back to the United States in the expectation that they will then be provided to Ukraine as aid. The urgency of the need for more systems was highlighted by footage from the Ukrainian frontlines near the town of Pokrovsk, Donetsk, which on March 8 confirmed the destruction of MIM-104 Patriot and S-300 surface to air missile systems in precision strikes by a Russian Iskander-M ballistic missile system

This was hardly the first incident which saw Patriots destroyed by Russian forces, but was more clearly captured by drone footage. Beyond strikes on frontline positions, the serious depletion of Ukrainian air defences has also allowed Russian forces to strike critical infrastructure across the country, placing serious further pressure on Kiev’s Western sponsors, the aid packages of which cover the large majority of expenses under the state budget.

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