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A Patriot missile system used by Germany
By Holly Honderich
in Washington

The Pentagon has said it will “rush” Patriot air defence missiles and artillery ammunition to Ukraine as part of a $6bn (£4.8bn) military aid.

Its the second package from Washington this week, following $1bn in more immediate aid announced on Wednesday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier on Friday that Kyiv “urgently” needs Patriot missiles in the face of growing Russia air threats.

Mr Zelensky said Patriots “can and should save lives right now”.

The US will “move immediately” to get the supplies to Ukraine, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Friday.

However a list of the equipment in the package, published by the Defence Department, did not include additional Patriot launchers.

It is the largest security assistance package the US has committed to date, Mr Austin said, and includes air defence munitions, counter-drone systems, artillery ammunition an critical intercepts for Patriot air defence systems.

“It’s not just Patriots that they need, they need other types of systems and interceptors as well,” Mr Austin said. “I would caution us all in terms of making Patriot the silver bullet.”

“Understand what’s at stake for Ukraine, for Europe, and for the United States,” he said. “If Putin prevails in Ukraine – Europe would face a security threat it hasn’t seen in a lifetime. Russia will not stop in Ukraine.”

Asked whether the US aid would protect Ukrainian forces, Mr Austin said that the commitment was “material, real, and substantial” although “not instantaneous”.

“It’s going to take some time to get it in there and distribute. The Ukrainians were able to hold – with this capability, they can do a lot better.”

US Defense Minister Lloyd Austin said the aid package was the largest committed to Ukraine to date

The announcement comes days after President Biden signed a long-awaited aid package containing $61bn in military support for Ukraine.

Ukraine only has a handful of Patriots to complement other Western missile defence systems and existing stocks of Soviet-era surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), such as the S-300.

They are the most capable and expensive air defence systems that Ukraine has. Each Patriot battery costs around $1bn (£800m), and each missile costs nearly $4m.

Germany has already promised an extra Patriot system – and its defence and foreign ministers appealed to their European counterparts earlier this month to respond urgently.

Greece has stocks of Patriots and S-300s but said none could be spared.

“We explained why we cannot do it,” Greek Prime Minister Kyrios Mitsotakis told Skai TV.

His said his country’s air defences were “critical systems for the protection of Greek air space”.

According to reports, Spain will supply some Patriot missiles but not a full system.

8 hours ago