Germany pushes USA to supply Ukraine with additional Patriot air defense systems – Bloomberg

Olaf Scholz
Olaf Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government is pushing the United States to provide Ukraine with at least one more Patriot air defense system to help close its air defense gap, Bloomberg reported on April 23, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Berlin’s pressure on Washington is part of a coordinated effort to force NATO and EU partners to increase assistance to Ukraine in the field of air defense, according to the agency’s sources.

Germany will also continue to press European allies, including France and Italy, this week to assess what they can do.

The German push represents a bit of a role reversal for Scholz, whose government was often criticized for delaying arms shipments after Russia’s invasion, but who has led efforts to send more Patriots and other air defense systems as Russia has launched more strikes that have destroyed part of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Read also: Germany plans to buy four additional Patriots for $1.3 billion — report

For the German military, the three Patriot systems will reportedly make up a quarter of their arsenal – a much larger share than America’s. Other equipment Berlin is offering includes SAMP-T surface-to-air systems, NASAMS and Hawk missiles, IRIS-T systems, as well as spare parts and funding to support these efforts.

NATO officials have also separately contacted manufacturers to discuss ways to speed up the delivery and increase production of air defense systems, sources said. Allies are also exploring the possibility of recertifying old Patriot missiles or missiles that are nearing the end of their service life, as well as the possibility of repurposing batteries that are currently used for training.

This is not the first time Scholz has tried to put pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden, Bloomberg notes. Last year, the chancellor made the provision of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine dependent on Washington’s provision of Abrams tanks. After some resistance, the White House finally agreed to supply the armor.

Additional air defense systems for Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on April 3 that Western partners do not want to give Ukraine “five or seven” Patriots, although they have more than 100.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on April 6 that 25 Patriot systems or their equivalents are needed to fully protect Ukraine’s airspace from Russian attacks.

Kuleba said on April 12 that Ukraine is currently in active negotiations with its allies to supply two Patriot batteries and one SAMP-T. The Foreign Ministry also argued that Russia would not have destroyed the Trypillia Thermal Power Plant if Ukraine had a sufficient number of Patriot systems.

Zelenskyy also commented on the Russian strike on Chernihiv on April 17 that killed 18 people and said that “this would not have happened if Ukraine had received enough air defense systems.”

EU diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said on April 18 at a meeting of G7 foreign ministers that EU countries should send their air defense systems to strengthen Ukraine’s air defense.

Helmut Rauch, head of Diehl Defence, the arms company that produces the IRIS-T SLM anti-aircraft missile system, said on April 18 that Ukraine would receive the new system “in the next few weeks.”

At a meeting in Italy on April 19, G7 foreign ministers pledge to help Ukraine strengthen its air defenses.

Read also:

The lower chamber of the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives, adopted a bill providing over $60 billion in support for Ukraine on the evening of April 20.

The bill will be considered by the U.S. Senate on April 23, after which it will be signed by President Joe Biden.

Ukraine and the United States are negotiating with countries that own Patriot missile systems to provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with four batteries of these weapons, FM Kuleba said earlier.

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