Speaking in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, alongside US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, Nad noted that “in the event that there is a situation where we have a suitable alternative – or we have a guaranteed capacity for a certain period of time – we will also be ready to discuss” equipping Ukraine the air defenses it seeks.
When asked if the United States would be willing to send alternatives to Slovakia, such as Patriot missiles, Austin objected. These are things that we will continue to work on with all of our allies, and certainly this is not just an American issue. “It’s a NATO issue,” he said.
Help can come from elsewhere. Earlier on Thursday – just minutes before the leaders’ joint appearance – the German Defense Ministry indicated in a tweet It will deploy some of its Patriot systems in Slovakia. “We continue to increase our involvement on the eastern side,” the Germans said.
Slovakia is among a handful of Eastern European countries that the United States has appealed to help bolster Ukraine’s ability to monitor the country’s airspace. Officials said Soviet-made surface-to-air missile systems are familiar to the Ukrainian military who will operate them, easing the need for training and eliminating the risk of more advanced weapons falling into Russian hands.
The S-300 has emerged as a focal point of Ukraine’s claims because it is designed to strike targets at higher altitudes and longer ranges than the Javelin and Stinger missiles that the United States has supplied directly to its forces. However, the countries that have these want to make sure that, with the help of the Ukrainians, they do not inadvertently make themselves more vulnerable to a possible Russian attack.
A senior US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon, earlier this week raised the possibility that Western countries, in place of the S-300, could facilitate the transfer of other air defense systems. Ukrainians are familiar.
Ukraine has ordered the SA-7 Grail and SA-8 Gecko as well as the S-300, a US official familiar with the situation said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because discussions remain highly sensitive. The SA-7, also known as the 9K32 Strela-2, is a shoulder-fired missile system that can reach aircraft flying over two miles. The SA-8, known as 9K33 Osa in Russian-speaking countries, can reach aircraft up to three miles in height, According to a US Army Fact Sheet.
The S-300 can reach altitudes of up to 18 miles, depending on the type of missile you’re firing.
Ukrainians already consider the discussion of surface-to-air missiles as a compromise. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s main request for the West was to help enforce a no-fly zone over his country — or, less so, to give Ukraine MiG-29 warplanes so it could do it itself. The United States resisted both of these proposals, arguing that they would be ineffective and risk being viewed as escalatory by Russia.
On Thursday, Austin cited a recent Russian cruise missile attack on a training center near Lviv, near the Polish border, to underscore the point.
Austin noted that “these missiles were actually launched from inside Russia.” “So a no-fly zone would have prohibited this activity.”
Austin suggested on Thursday that there could be a “number of things” that could be used to counter Russian rockets, missiles and artillery.
We have seen that drones have been very effective. We have also seen that having the ability to conduct counterfire with rockets and artillery is also very effective. And so I think, increasingly, we’re going to see Ukrainian forces resort to those tactics to counter that,” he said.
Lawmakers called on the Biden administration to provide Ukraine with more radar that can be used quickly to identify locations where Russian forces are launching long-range weapons. So far, the White House has provided four anti-artillery radar systems and four anti-mortar radar systems, according to a White House fact sheet published Wednesday.
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