Three officials told CNN that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send the powerful, long-range missile system to Ukraine and that the news could be announced as early as this week.
Before the announcement can be made, however, the plans must first be approved by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and then finally signed by President Joe Biden.
The MIM-105 Patriot surface-to-air missile system, manufactured by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing, is an advanced weapon that launches missiles capable of striking targets from as far away as 100km.
The three government officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not say how many missile launchers will be sent – however, regardless of the number that arrive in Ukraine, it will fulfil a request that has been repeatedly made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy throughout 2022.
The news is significant as it represents a shift in the White House’s attitude towards providing more advanced and long-range missile systems to Ukraine.
The move also comes shortly after former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lobbied the White House in an open letter published by the Wall Street Journal to send long-range weapons to Ukraine.
Johnson also urged the British government to do the same, although the White House’s anticipated decision may be a reflection of the fact that the war in Ukraine has changed. Russia is now on the back foot in many of the territories it annexed in September and now relies heavily on missile bombardments of major Ukrainian cities to fend off new Ukrainian counter-offensives.
Patriot Missiles: How Will Russia Respond?
When asked whether the Patriot systems would become “legitimate targets” in the war, Peskov responded, “definitely.”
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has repeatedly threatened Western countries with severe Russian military action throughout the war, made similar comments this week.
“P.S. If, as Stoltenberg hinted, NATO delivers Patriot complexes to Kiev fanatics together with NATO personnel, they will immediately become a legitimate target of our Armed Forces. I hope Atlantic impotents understand this,” Medvedev said on his official Telegram account.
Neither Russian official stated that Russia would consider the Patriot systems legitimate targets while traveling to Ukraine.
However, throughout the conflict, Russia has refrained from deliberately targeting Western-supplied weapons until they arrive in Ukraine.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor.