NATO member Romania to send a Patriot missile system to neighboring Ukraine

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis exits a voting cabin during European and local elections in Bucharest, Romania, Sunday, June 9, 2024. Voters across the European Union are going to the polls on the final day of voting for the European parliamentary elections to choose their representatives for the next five-year term. (AP Photo/Andreea Alexandru)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — NATO member Romania’s top defense body said Thursday that the country will donate a Patriot missile system to neighboring Ukraine to help Kyiv in the war with Russia as Moscow’s forces continue to bombard civilian areas and energy infrastructure.

The office of Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who chaired the Supreme Council of National Defense meeting in Bucharest, said the decision was made in close coordination with allies and is conditional on Romania obtaining a similar or equivalent system. The U.S.-made air defense system to be sent to Ukraine is one of several that Romania possesses.

“The decision was based on an in-depth technical evaluation of the Romanian authorities, all measures being taken to eliminate the risk of creating possible vulnerabilities for Romania,” Iohannis’ office said. “At the same time, they will continue discussions with allies so that our country’s air defense is further strengthened.”

The U.S. has donated a Patriot system to Ukraine, and earlier this month approved sending another. Other allies, including Germany, also have provided air defense systems. U.S. officials have routinely pressed for allies to provide air defense systems to Kyiv, but some Eastern European nations have been reluctant to give up the high-tech systems.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly urged Western allies to boost his country’s air defenses in the face of sustained Russian attacks on Ukraine's power grid, which in recent weeks forced energy companies to institute nationwide rolling blackouts.

“Romania’s position is and will continue to be unequivocal in its multidimensional support of Ukraine, alongside the international community, in its legitimate right to self-defense against Russia’s illegal and unprovoked aggression,” Iohannis’ office said.

After Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, NATO increased its presence on Europe’s eastern flank by sending additional multinational battlegroups to alliance members Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia.

Since then, Romania has played an increasingly prominent role in the alliance throughout the war, including opening an international training hub in southeast of the country for F-16 jet pilots from allied countries and other partners, including Ukraine.

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