Austin pushes for more Patriot systems to Ukraine


Austin emphasised ongoing efforts to engage these countries, personally reaching out to their leaders in recent weeks…reports Asian Lite News

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has been actively lobbying nations with Patriot missile systems to support Ukraine’s request for additional air defence batteries.

Speaking at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Austin emphasised ongoing efforts to engage these countries, personally reaching out to their leaders in recent weeks.

Although he didn’t specify the nations, several European Union members, including Spain, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden, possess Patriot systems.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had earlier urged NATO to provide at least seven more Patriot or similar advanced air defence systems to counter Russian airstrikes.

Meanwhile, at least two people have been killed by Russian missile attacks in the southern Ukrainian port city of Odesa, while a further eight were injured, the Governor of the region, Oleh Kiper, said on Telegram.

Civilian infrastructure, including several residential buildings, was damaged.

Previously, the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which is just over 30 kilometres from the Russian border, had been attacked with glide bombs, according to the authorities. Two civilians were injured in that attack. A multi-storey residential building was damaged.

Ukraine has been fending off a Russian invasion for over two years. The Russian army fires missiles and drones at the major cities of Kharkiv and Odesa on an almost daily basis.

Earlier Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that when NATO allies fail to deliver weapons and ammunition to Ukraine on time, “Ukrainians are paying the price.”

“The lack of ammunition has enabled the Russians to push forward along the front line,” Stoltenberg said in Kyiv, singling out the United States for Washington’s protracted process to send more military aid.

“European allies have not delivered the amount of ammunition they promised,” Stoltenberg added, referring to the European Union’s failure to deliver one million artillery shells to Ukraine in a year.

Secretary General Stoltenberg was speaking at a press conference alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on an unannounced visit when he voiced his criticism.

“Lack of air defence has made it possible for more Russian missiles to hit their targets,” Stoltenberg said.

“And the lack of deep strike capabilities has made it possible for the Russians to concentrate more forces, and we see the consequences of that now,” he said.

Zelensky thanked the top NATO official for his support and stressed that he expected no further delays in the delivery of recently announced military aid.

Stoltenberg highlighted Spain’s decision to supply Ukraine with Patriot missiles. He said he expected further announcements of support for Ukraine to follow soon.

Germany on Monday announced that it has delivered an additional 10 Marder infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and other defence equipment to Ukraine.

A second Skynex air defence system is also part of the package, as are almost 30,000 rounds of ammunition for the Gepard air defence tank and ammunition for the Iris-T system, the German government announced in Berlin.

The third Patriot air defence system promised in mid-April was not on the updated list of German military aid.

Russia has recently stepped up its airstrikes on Ukraine with missiles, cruise missiles, drones and glide bombs.

Russia says it intercepted US-made missiles

Russia reported on Tuesday that it had intercepted and brought down six tactical missiles supplied by the US to Ukraine.

Officials in Crimea, annexed by Russia, claimed that some of these missiles were downed over the Black Sea peninsula.

The US had been providing arms to Ukraine, which has been requesting more potent weaponry for months to counter advancing Russian forces.

The Russian defense ministry stated that they had neutralized six Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) rockets within the past 24 hours, without disclosing the exact locations of interception.

Sergei Aksyonov, the pro-Russian leader in Crimea, specified that one missile was taken down in the village of Donskoye near Simferopol, cautioning residents about the scattered submunitions.

He shared an image of a component he claimed was from the destroyed missile, urging people not to approach any remnants but to alert emergency services.

There was no indication from Russia regarding any damage caused by the intercepted missiles in Crimea.

Despite previous attacks by Ukraine on Crimea, no immediate response was issued by Ukrainian authorities regarding this incident.

The US had acknowledged sending ATACMS missiles to Ukraine in February, and Ukrainian forces are anticipating the delivery of additional US weapons, approved by President Joe Biden after prolonged political disputes in Congress.

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