The Kremlin said on Wednesday that US Patriot missile defense systems would be a legitimate target for Russian strikes against Ukraine, should the US authorize them to be delivered to support Kyiv.
Washington is finalizing plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, a decision that could be announced as soon as this week, three US officials told Reuters on Tuesday.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Patriots would “definitely” be a target for Russia, but that he would not comment on unconfirmed media reports.
The Patriot is considered to be one of the most advanced US air defense systems, including against aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. It typically includes launchers along with radar and other support vehicles.
The Pentagon says Russia’s recent surge in missile strikes in Ukraine is partly designed to exhaust Kyiv’s supplies of air defenses so it can dominate the skies above the country. For that reason, the US and its allies have been delivering more air defenses for Kyiv.
For the US, this has included NASAMS air defense systems that the Pentagon says have flawlessly intercepted Russian missiles in Ukraine. Washington has so far provided Ukraine with $19.3 billion in military assistance since the start of the conflict.