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Biden helps send Ukraine advanced air defense system, fulfilling one of Zelenskyy’s biggest wishes

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A combat-ready Patriot missile system is flanked by German troops.Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images

  • Biden said the United States was working with Slovakia to supply Ukraine with the S-300 air defense system.

  • The United States provides Slovakia with a Patriot missile system in exchange for the transfer.

  • “Now is not the time to be complacent,” Biden said, warning that the Russian military onslaught would continue.

President Joe Biden said on Friday there was ‘no time for complacency’ as the United States announced it was working with NATO ally Slovakia to supply Ukraine an advanced air defense system, fulfilling one of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s personal requests.

“As the Russian military repositions itself for the next phase of this war, I have directed my administration to continue to spare no effort to identify and provide the Ukrainian military with the advanced weaponry capabilities it needs. to defend his country,” Biden said in a statement. published by the White House.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hailed Slovakia’s “generosity” in sending Ukraine an S-300 air defense system. He said it was a “strong testament” to the commitment shown by Ukraine’s neighbors as Russia continues its war. Biden said the United States would provide Slovakia with an American-made Patriot missile system in exchange for the transfer.

“This deployment of Patriot capabilities to Slovakia aligns perfectly with our previous efforts to strengthen NATO’s defensive capabilities and to demonstrate our collective security requirements under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty,” said Austin in a statement.

Austin also said the Patriot system will be flown by US troops arriving “in the next few days.” Austin said their deployment had no end date as the United States and Slovakia explore “more permanent air defense solutions.”

Biden said Zelenskyy brought up the S-300 system directly with him during their conversations. The S-300 is a Soviet-era system that can reach altitudes of up to 18 miles, The Washington Post previously reported.

“Now is not the time to be complacent,” Biden said. “The Russian army may have failed in its goal of capturing kyiv, but it continues to inflict horrific acts of brutality on the Ukrainian people.”

In an emotional speech to Congress last month, Zelenskyy called on the United States to support a no-fly zone in Ukraine. He added that if that was “too much to ask”, then Ukraine needed better anti-aircraft systems like the S-300. “Russia has turned the Ukrainian skies into a source of death for thousands of people,” Zelenskyy said at the time. The United States and NATO have opposed a no-fly zone because it would force the alliance to shoot down Russian fighter jets. This would effectively amount to a declaration of war and trigger a direct confrontation between a number of nuclear powers.

Since launching an unprovoked war against Ukraine in late February, Russia has struggled to make any significant gains on the ground. The Russian army, which has lost thousands of soldiers since the start of the war, failed to take kyiv. Russia is now concentrating its offensive on the eastern region of Donbass.

After invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia began backing the rebels in a war against Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donbass region. The conflict in Donbass raged for eight years before Russia began its latest invasion of Ukraine in February. The separatists control about a third of the region, and NATO believes Moscow will conquer the rest of Donbass in the coming days.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday that Russia would launch a “concentrated” offensive in Donbass.

“In the coming weeks, we expect a new Russian push into eastern and southern Ukraine, in an attempt to take all of Donbass and create a land bridge to occupied Crimea,” the leader said. of NATO.

But Stoltenberg, in an interview with NPR on Friday, also warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin has not “changed his overall goal, and that is to control Ukraine.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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