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Putin’s Window for More Mass Strikes on Kyiv is Shrinking

The US is accelerating deliveries of Patriot missile systems and Abrams tanks to Ukraine the same week that the invaded nation learned it would receive plenty more ammunition within the next calendar year.

In the coming days, 65 Ukrainian soldiers will complete system training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, CNN reported. The Ukrainians will then receive additional training on two Patriot systems—one American and one built by the Germans and Dutch—anticipated to be deployed to Ukraine in the coming weeks.

The delivery of Patriot systems to Ukraine was initially announced in mid-December as the highlight of a $1.85 billion security package to Ukraine that coincided with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington, DC

Jennifer Erickson, associate professor of political science at Boston College and an international weapons expert, told Newsweek that the Patriot systems’ arrival in Ukraine “is potentially well-timed” due to anticipated offensives and counteroffensives this spring.

Retired US General Mark Hertling was among those skeptical about the timing of delivery of the systems contracted for the US Army by Raytheon Company Missile Systems Division. US defense officials anticipated a “several-month training process.”

Patriot batteries normally include a phased array radar, an engagement control station, computers, power generating equipment, and up to eight launchers—each of which holds four ready-to-fire missiles. About 90 soldiers can be assigned to one battery.

They are already used by military outfits in countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Greece, Spain, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Romania, Sweden, Poland and Bahrain.

Erickson said the systems are particularly important against larger and faster Russian missiles that have routinely targeted areas like Kyiv, including earlier this month. Ukrainian defense officials have lauded the system for its ability to take out Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, which can be converted to be nuclear capable.

“It’s worth noting that two Patriot systems on their own are unlikely to change much on the ground,” Erickson said. “Even if it assimilates the Patriot systems efficiently, Ukraine will need to continue to rely on other systems that are less expensive to operate—both to cover the large parts of the country the Patriot systems will not cover, and to counter smaller and more frequently attacks in areas the Patriot systems do cover.”

Questions remain about how Russia may retaliate once the Patriots hit the ground in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said following the US announcement in December that Patriots “would lead to an escalation of the conflict and increase the risk of direct involvement of the US army in hostilities.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Christmas Day that Russia would “100 percent” destroy the systems.

The expedited delivery of Patriot systems coincides with recent announcements of larger ammunition deliveries and more tanks headed to Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder told reporters Tuesday that instead of receiving M1A2 Abrams, Ukraine would receive M1A1 tanks that can be delivered in the fall, “faster than what was initially expected.”

Erickson said that the EU recently has taken more collective and active steps toward joint or common procurement of military goods, referring to the latest proposal as “a big political deal.”

“Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine has challenged member states’ own political and military ability to keep up a pace of supply and provided more immediate incentive for member states to pursue some joint procurement,” she said. “The EU needs political consensus for projects like this ammunition initiative to work, but even when the economic efficiency case for joint procurement seems clear, the political side can be [and historically has been] much more contentious.”

The EU’s three-point plan includes: 1 billion euros for immediate delivery; 1 billion euros for joint procurement; and a commission put in place to ramp up production.

Still, the US remains Ukraine’s biggest partner in the war against Russia, which hit the one-year mark on February 24.

On Monday, 18 European Union (EU) members agreed to send Ukraine 1 million rounds of 155-millimeter artillery ammunition within the next 12 months.

Data compiled by the German-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy between January 24, 2022, and January 15, 2023, shows that Americans have earmarked a total of just over 73.1 billion euros ($78.8 billion USD) for financial, military and humanitarian assistance . For the EU, the comparable figure is 54.9 billion euros ($59.1 billion USD).

On Monday, the US announced an additional $350 million aid package consisting of 155-millimeter artillery rounds for HIMARS (High-Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems), high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs), howitzers, 81-millimeter and 60-millimeter mortar systems and rounds, grenade launchers, small arms, riverine boats and heavy fuel tankers, etc.

The US is accelerating deliveries of Patriot missile systems and Abrams tanks to Ukraine the same week that the invaded nation learned it would receive plenty more ammunition within the next calendar year.

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