American-made Patriot missiles have arrived in Ukraine, providing the country with a new shield against the Russian airstrikes that have devastated cities and civilian infrastructure. The announcement was made by Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov on Wednesday.
The U.S. agreed to send the surface-to-air systems in October 2022, which can target aircraft, cruise missiles and shorter-range ballistic missiles such as those that Russia has used to bombard residential areas and the Ukrainian power grid.
Reznikov thanked the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands for their contributions, without specifying the number of missile systems that were delivered or when they arrived.
The Patriot system is the latest contribution from Western allies, who have also pledged tanks, artillery, and some types of fighter jets as Ukraine gears up for an expected counteroffensive.
Germany has also delivered the second of four medium-range IRIS-T air defense systems that it pledged last year.
According to Ukrainian air force spokesman Yurii Ihnat, the delivery of the systems is a landmark event, allowing Ukrainians to knock out Russian targets at a greater distance.
Reznikov said that he first asked for Patriot systems when visiting the U.S. in August 2021, five months before Russia’s full-scale invasion and seven years after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. He described possessing the system as “a dream” but said he was told in the U.S. at the time that it was “impossible.”
Ukrainian personnel have been trained on the Patriot battery, which requires up to 90 troops to operate and maintain it.
The Patriot was first deployed by the U.S. in the 1980s. The system costs approximately $4 million per missile, and the launchers cost about $10 million each, analysts say.
While the delivery of the Patriot missiles is a welcome addition to Ukraine’s military arsenal, experts have cautioned that the system’s effectiveness is limited and may not significantly change the shape of the war, even though it will add to Ukraine’s firepower against Russia.
In other developments, China has denied reports that Chinese drones have been found on Ukraine battlefields, while Russian President Vladimir Putin said he recently visited Moscow-controlled parts of Ukraine’s southern Kherson and easternmost Luhansk provinces.
Kyiv officials have reported daily civilian casualties from Russian bombardment, with at least four civilians killed and 27 others wounded in recent attacks.
The delivery of the Patriot missiles is a significant boost for Ukraine’s military capabilities in its ongoing conflict with Russia. It provides the country with a new shield against the Russian airstrikes that have devastated cities and civilian infrastructure.
Despite the caution from experts regarding the system’s effectiveness, the Patriot missiles add to Ukraine’s firepower against Russia, and it is likely to be seen as a significant development in the ongoing conflict.