U.S.-provided NASAMS air defense systems have had a 100% success rate in Ukraine intercepting Russian missiles, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday, as NATO said an errant Ukrainian air defense interceptor was likely the cause of an explosion in Poland on Tuesday.
Austin, speaking at the start of a routine virtual meeting of dozens of defense ministers on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said the United States would work with Poland to gather more information on the explosion, but he did not assign blame.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said last month the United States was accelerating the shipment of the sophisticated NASAMS systems to Ukraine after a devastating missile barrage from Russia.
“Look who’s here! NASAMS and Aspide air defence systems arrived in Ukraine!,” Reznikov wrote on the Telegram messaging app, thanking Norway, Spain and the United States for the shipments.
The Royal United Services Institute, a London-based defence think tank, said in a report on Monday that Ukraine needed modern Western equipment and ammunition to defend itself from missile and drone attacks.
“The West must avoid complacency about the need to urgently bolster Ukrainian air-defence capacity,” RUSI said.
NASAMS is doing its job
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that long-anticipated Western air defense systems NASAMS and Aspide had arrived on Nov. 7.
Since mid-October, Russian attacks have damaged 30-40% of Ukraine’s energy system, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine’s state-owned grid operator Ukrenergo warned that there are several “hard days” ahead for Ukraine as Russia conducted the largest attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure on Nov. 15.
As the weather is getting colder and the electricity consumption is growing, so will the load on the grid, Ukrenergo’s chief said.
U.S. Defense Department spokesman Patrick Ryder confirmed on November 8 that Ukraine had received two NASAMS air defense systems following Ukraine’s Armed Forces training in operating and maintaining these weapons held by the U.S. in Europe.
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