The Joe Biden administration is now discussing whether to send advanced air defense systems to Kiev, according to a senior Pentagon official. The statement came just days after Poland suggested Germany should transfer its own Patriot interceptor missiles to Ukraine, as Moscow warned any such shipments would become “legitimate targets” for Russian forces.
Speaking to reporters for a press briefing on Tuesday, an unnamed senior official said “all capabilities are on the table” in regards to Ukraine aid, adding that the Patriot system “is one of the air defense capabilities that is being considered along with all others.”
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder later clarified that the White House has no immediate plans to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine, but noted that discussions are still underway. Asked whether the administration was concerned a Patriot transfer would escalate tensions with Moscow, Ryder offered no direct answer, instead explaining complications related to training and maintenance, saying such advanced weapons are not “plug and play.”
The Patriot missile defense system is produced by Raytheon, where Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin once served as a board member. The platform is considered to be NATO’s most sophisticated air defense weapon.
The comments from the two US officials came as the NATO bloc met for a major summit in Romania on Tuesday, where member states pledged additional support for Kiev’s war effort. In a speech delivered at the start of the event, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance would “stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” and later suggested that NATO itself was also discussing a Patriot missile deployment for Ukraine.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, responded to the NATO chief in a social media post, warning that Moscow would not allow the advanced American weapons to reach the battlefield.
”If, as Stoltenberg’s hinted, NATO supplies the Kiev fanatics with Patriot defense systems – as well as the alliance’s personnel – they will immediately turn into legitimate targets for our armed forces. I hope it is clear for the North Atlantic impotents,” he wrote.
Some European allies have also mulled whether to ship Patriots to Ukraine in recent days. After a stray Ukrainian air defense missile crossed into Poland and killed two farmers earlier this month, Germany offered to station one of its own Patriot systems in the country to prevent any future cross-border incidents. However, while Warsaw declined and urged Berlin to send the platform to Kiev instead, German officials said they could not do so, as the weapons are part of NATO’s collective air defenses and Ukraine is not a member of the alliance.