Ukraine’s success with U.S.-made Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems in the war with Russia has shocked even the Pentagon, according to a military analyst.
Ivan Kirichevskiy, an expert at military media and consulting company Defense Express, weighed in on Kyiv’s use of the advanced missile system in an interview with Ukraine’s Radio NV. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had been requesting the crucial defense system for months before it finally arrived.
Washington agreed in October 2022 to send Kyiv the Patriot missile systems, which can target aircraft, cruise missiles, and shorter-range ballistic missiles. Zelensky said they could help counter Russian strikes on its energy infrastructure and residential areas. Germany and the Netherlands also committed to sending Patriot systems to Ukraine.
Ukraine now has two of the air defense systems set up in the country.
“Today, our beautiful Ukrainian sky becomes more secure because Patriot air defense systems have arrived in Ukraine,” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a statement on his social media channels on April 19.
“The United States thought for a long time, discussing whether to give us Patriots or not,” said Kirichevskiy. “It turns out that our air defense forces with crash course training literally squeezed out of the Patriot a capability that the Pentagon did not think was possible.”
The ground-based Patriot missile defense system is the most advanced surface-to-air missile Washington has provided Kyiv with since the war began. With a range of over 65 miles, it can detect, track and engage drones, cruise missiles and short-range or tactical ballistic missiles, according to the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance.
Ukraine has used sophisticated systems to counter waves of missile strikes from Russia. A Ukrainian air force commander said on Telegram on May 6 that Ukraine’s military used the Patriot missile defense system to down a Russian Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile over Kyiv.
Russia previously warned that deliveries of the systems to Ukraine could escalate the conflict.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in December that all weapons supplied by Western nations to Ukraine will be targeted by Russia.
“We would like to remind you that all the weapons supplied by the West to Ukraine are legitimate military targets for the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and will either be destroyed or captured, as our country has repeatedly said,” she told reporters.
A missile attack near Kyiv on May 16 caused “minor” damage to a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, U.S. officials said.
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