US will move Ukraine to front of line for air defense missile deliveries, White House says

Russia is ‘trying to destroy Ukraine’s energy system ahead of this winter,’ says White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby

Andrew Feinberg
Washington DC
Thursday 20 June 2024 16:50 BST
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pictured next to a US-made Patriot air defense missile battery
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pictured next to a US-made Patriot air defense missile battery ((c) Copyright 2024, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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The United States will prioritize deliveries of newly-made Patriot and NASAMS missile systems to Ukraine over any existing orders from other allies in an effort to shore up Kyiv’s air defense systems after renewed attacks by Russia on Ukraine’s power grid.

White House National Security Communications Adviser John Kirby on Thursday told reporters that Ukrainian forces are currently “in desperate need of additional air defence capabilities” as Russia continues to target Ukrainian infrastructure ahead of the fall and winter seasons.

“In recent months, Russia has accelerated its missile and its drone attacks against cities and civilian infrastructure and are trying to destroy Ukraine’s energy system ahead of this winter ... As a result, the United States government has made the difficult but necessary decision to reprioritize near-term planned deliveries ... of particularly Patriot and NASAMS missiles to go to Ukraine instead [of other allies],” he said.

Kirby said the initial effect of this move would be to see Ukraine receive more deliveries of needed weapons within the next few weeks. He added that the US would make every effort to minimize disruptions in defense needs to other customers.

“To be clear, those countries will still receive the missiles that they have ordered — just... the delivery timelines will now take a little longer,” he said.

Continuing, Kirby added that the US “firmly believes that this is the best course of action right now to support Ukraine” and stressed that decision demonstrates America’s commitment to supporting Ukraine as well as other partners facing “existential danger.”

“We’re going to make sure we give Ukraine the critical air defence capabilities they need now and into the future, and we’re going to keep working with our allies and partners to make sure that they, too, get the air defence capabilities that they ordered. And we’re grateful to the nations that we’ve reached out to that have not only understood, but many of them have been fully supportive of this decision,” he said.

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