Biden Prioritizes Ukraine in Air Defense System Distribution

Washington is reportedly sending another Patriot missile system to Kiev

President Joe Biden has stated that countries that have placed orders for air defense systems from the United States will have to acknowledge that Ukraine will be given priority.

The US leader outlined Washington’s stance at a joint press conference with Vladimir Zelensky, after the two signed a security agreement on Thursday on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Italy.

“We’ve made it clear to those nations anticipating air defense systems from us in the future that they’ll have to wait,” Biden said, in response to a question about US efforts to enhance Kiev’s capabilities. “Everything we have is dedicated to Ukraine until their requirements are fulfilled.”

Biden didn’t specify which particular systems he was referencing, but he earlier noted his administration had secured commitments from five nations to provide long-range Patriot batteries to Kiev.

During the press conference, Zelensky reiterated his assertion that Ukraine urgently needs seven Patriot systems, adding that “we discussed the possibility of acquiring five of them”. Biden reassured him that “you’ll receive some relatively soon.”

Last week, the US president authorized the transfer of a Patriot system from Poland to Ukraine, according to multiple US media outlets. Each battery has a value exceeding $1 billion and fires interceptor missiles costing $4 million apiece. The US only has 14 of these systems deployed domestically and abroad, The New York Times reported, citing a military source.

Ukraine has thus far obtained at least three Patriot batteries – one from the US, one from Germany, and one jointly provided by Germany and the Netherlands. In April, Berlin pledged to deliver another one shortly, but has since backtracked on that commitment. US officials have indicated that their country is the primary supplier of interceptor missiles to Ukraine.

Western nations, including Poland, have stated that they will not donate any of their Patriot systems to Ukraine. Polish media have alleged that the US battery slated for relocation is necessary to defend a logistics hub in the city of Rzeszow, through which Western arms are being sent to Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly asserted that no amount of military equipment Western nations donate to Kiev can alter the outcome of the hostilities. It views the conflict as a US-initiated proxy war against Russia, in which Ukrainians are being utilized as “cannon fodder”.