Op-ed

US has no Patriots to spare for Ukraine – White House

American air defense capabilities are stretched thinly around the globe, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has claimed

FILE PHOTO ©  Artur Widak / NurPhoto via Getty Images

The US has no Patriot missile systems to spare for Ukraine, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has told MSNBC.

The official was responding to reported comments by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. Addressing a virtual meeting of the so-called Ukraine Defense Contact Group on Friday, Zelensky demanded “at least seven” Patriot batteries from his Western backers. Kiev’s main sponsor, however, has indicated that it has none to spare.

“The US Patriot systems right now are being deployed around the world, including in the Middle East, to protect US troops,” Sullivan said.

“If we can unlock further American Patriot batteries we would send them. But we are doing a lot of the supplying of the actual missiles that go into those batteries that get fired,” the official insisted.

The US is not willing to risk undermining its own security, but it is working around the clock to pressure the EU, NATO, and other partners to share their air defense capabilities with Ukraine, Sullivan added.

READ MORE: EU state says it won’t give missile systems to Ukraine

The Pentagon has pledged additional Patriot munitions as part of a “historic” $6 billion assistance package announced on Friday. However, the interceptors could take months or even years to arrive, as the batch will not come from existing Pentagon stockpiles. Instead, the announcement “represents the beginning of a contracting process” with the US defense industry.

Manufactured by US arms giant Raytheon, a single MIM-104 Patriot battery costs over $1 billion. It consists of multiple truck-mounted units, including power, radar, antenna, engagement control and other support vehicles, as well as up to eight launchers with interceptor missiles.

The US has produced over 1,100 Patriot launchers over the years. It is estimated to have hundreds in active service and in storage, but has only sent a single battery to Ukraine. Germany has donated two more full batteries, while the Netherlands has shared two individual launchers.

“In the meantime, what we’re going to do is work with European partners and partners in other parts of the world to get them to provide additional air defense capability to Ukraine,” Sullivan added.

READ MORE: Spain buckling to EU pressure on Patriots for Ukraine – El Pais

In addition to Germany and the Netherlands, other European nations that operate Patriot systems include Poland, Spain, Greece, and Romania. While Berlin recently promised to supply yet another Patriot battery to Ukraine, Warsaw said earlier this week that it has no air defense systems to spare. 

Spain has stated it can only provide a “small number” of Patriot interceptor missiles from its stocks, but not the actual systems. Greece has also resisted outside pressure, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has insisted no action will be taken “that could even remotely endanger our nation’s deterrent capabilities or air defense.”

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