US Expedites Air Defense Interceptor Missiles to Ukraine Amid Increased Russian Attacks
US Expedites Air Defense Interceptor Missiles to Ukraine Amid Increased Russian Attacks

WASHINGTON: The White House announced on Thursday a rapid deployment of air defense interceptor missiles to Ukraine by diverting planned shipments originally intended for allied nations. This decision comes as the United States seeks to counter heightened Russian assaults on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

John Kirby, national security spokesman, stated that the US had made the "difficult but necessary decision to reprioritize near-term planned deliveries of foreign military sales to other countries." Kirby did not disclose which nations would be affected or the exact quantity of interceptors redirected.

"Ukraine urgently requires these additional capabilities," Kirby emphasized during a press briefing. "More resources are essential and they are needed immediately."

The announcement follows President Joe Biden's remarks at the Group of Seven meeting in Italy last week, where he hinted at such measures, stating, "We’ve communicated to countries expecting air defense systems from us that they will need to wait."

"We will prioritize Ukraine until their needs are met," Biden affirmed. "Subsequently, we will honor commitments made to other nations."

The US had already been supplying Ukraine with a steady stream of interceptors for its air defense systems, including Patriot missile batteries and NASAMS. However, Kirby stressed the urgent requirement for additional supplies, citing increased Russian missile and drone attacks aimed at crippling Ukraine's energy infrastructure ahead of winter.

While Russia intensifies aerial assaults on Ukraine's power grid, Kyiv's forces are retaliating with drone strikes on Russian oil facilities, intensifying efforts to disrupt each other's combat capabilities.

Kirby did not specify the exact number of interceptors to be delivered but indicated that it could involve "hundreds" of Patriot interceptor missiles. He outlined that Ukraine would receive prioritized shipments as soon as they roll off assembly lines over the next 16 months, ensuring sufficient capability during this period.

Post that period, Kirby assured that countries experiencing delays would resume receiving systems they had already ordered.

The redirection of missile systems to Ukraine may delay deliveries to "a range of countries," Kirby acknowledged, while clarifying that Taiwan's defense needs against potential threats from China would not be impacted.

When asked about the reactions of other nations affected by the decision, Kirby noted they were "generally understanding" of the situation. "They recognize the critical nature of Ukraine's needs," he added.

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