Pentagon preparing to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine

The Pentagon is preparing to send a Patriot missile system to Ukraine, two senior U.S. officials said Tuesday, a move that would provide the government in Kyiv with the most advanced air defense system in the American arsenal as Russia carries out an unrelenting assault on the country’s electrical grid.

The plan is not yet approved by President Biden or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, but it could be soon, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail sensitive internal deliberations. The effort would seem intended to address one of Ukraine’s biggest and most frequent requests of Washington since the war began, and follows weeks of Russian bombardment that has plunged much of the country into cold and darkness as winter takes hold.

The development, first reported by CNN, would represent the Biden administration’s most significant step so far to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses. While the United States has provided more than $20 billion in arms and military equipment to Ukraine since the war began in late-February, it has steadfastly resisted sending some of its most advanced weaponry, including long-range missiles, fighter jets and battle tanks, with senior officials saying previously they want to avoid making moves Moscow could deem escalatory or otherwise would require extensive training for Ukrainian troops.

Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Monday that the Biden administration wants to blunt “any Russian effort” to gain an upper hand in Ukraine, “whether it’s military advantage or advantage through brutalizing and destroying civilian infrastructure.”

The U.S. government’s focus, he said, “is going to be upon those things that actually represent a genuine threat to Ukraine and the people of Ukraine,” adding that additional announcements of military support are likely in “coming days.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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