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US to Send Patriot Missiles to Ukraine in Largest-Ever Military Aid

The USD 6 billion military aid is the largest security assistance package that the US has committed to date

United States has announced an additional aid of USD 6 billion to Ukraine, which will enable for procurement of weapons, including critical interceptors Patriot and NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) air defence systems, the US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Saturday.

The additional commitment of USD 6 billion through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) will allow for the procurement of new capabilities for Ukraine from US industry, Austin said.

“This is the largest security assistance package that we’ve committed to date,” Austin told a news conference at the Pentagon, adding that the US would “move immediately” to get the supplies to Ukraine.

The USAI aid package also includes counter-drone systems and support equipment; significant amounts of artillery ammunition and air-to-ground munitions; and maintenance and sustainment support.

The USD 6 billion is part of a USD 60 billion aid package signed into law by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, which also includes USD1 billion in more immediate aid, Austin said.

The Department of Defence (DoD) announced that the “historic new security assistance package” will address Ukraine’s ongoing battlefield needs and demonstrate unwavering US support for Ukraine.

Launch of a MIM-104 Patriot missile.

Austin and Air Force General Charles Q Brown Jr, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed the press conference following a virtual meeting of the 21st Ukraine Defence Contact Group which saw the participation of Ukranian Minister of Defence Umerov and General Syrskyi.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the start of the virtual meeting and sought more air defence systems to be sent to Kyiv to help protest against Russian strikes.

Austin said that he had convened the Ukraine Defence Contact Group for the first time at Ramstein Air Base exactly two years ago. The group comprising some 50 members of allies and partners from around the world, marshals military assistance for Ukraine.

Contact group members have committed more than USD 95 billion in security assistance to Ukraine, the US Defence Secretary said.

“Over the past two years, the members of this Contact Group have committed more than 70 mid- to long range air-defense systems, along with thousands of missiles. We’ve provided more than 3,000 armoured vehicles, including more than 800 main battle tanks. We’ve given Ukraine tens of thousands of anti-tank missiles. This year, more than a squadron of donated F-16s will start to arrive in Ukraine, along with pilots and maintainers trained by members of this Contact Group,” Austin said as per a Pentagon readout of the remarks made by Austin at the opening of the 21st Ukraine Defence Contact Group.

The US Defence Secretary noted Czech Republic’s “extraordinary initiative” to procure thousands of artillery shells from third countries for Ukraine. “And the UK has announced its largest single package of equipment ever, worth approximately USD 620 million. Or consider Germany’s bold announcement that it will donate another Patriot system to Ukraine,” he said.

“Ukraine is in dire need of more air-defence systems. And it urgently needs more interceptors. That’s going to be a huge priority for us all today. Ukraine also needs more artillery and armour to defend its citizens and reclaim its stolen territory,” Austin said.

Responding to a reporter’s query Austin said, “I would point out that it’s not just Patriot, that you know, they need. They need other types of systems and interceptors, as well. And so I would caution us all in terms of making Patriot the silver bullet. I would say that it’s going to be the integrated air and missile defence, as we’ve said so many times before, that really turns the tide. And so there are other capabilities that they need that — that we really pushed hard to get, and we may be able to the Ukrainians a bit faster.”

Urging allies to deter Russia from further aggression, the US Defence Secretary said, “If Ukraine fell under Putin’s boot, Europe would fall under Putin’s shadow.”

USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from US industry or partners.

“So the announcements this week underscore America’s enduring commitment to Ukraine’s defence. I’m also proud of all the capabilities that our allies and partners have provided to Ukraine. Our contact group partners have contributed most of the counter-UAS systems provided to Ukraine and most of the 155-millimeter artillery systems, most of the tanks, most of the armoured personnel carriers, most of the infantry fighting vehicles and more,” Austin said. (ANI)

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