Russia warns NATO will become ‘legitimate target’ if alliance supplies Ukraine with US-supplied Patriot missiles
- NATO discusses sending Patriot missiles to Ukraine at meeting in Romania
- Kyiv says the weapons are needed to protect its electricity and water supply
- But Russia’s ex-president Dmitry Medvedev warned they would be targeted
NATO will become a target for the Russian military if the alliance provides Patriot missile batteries to Ukraine, the head of Moscow’s Security Council has warned.
Dmitry Medvedev, who has also served as president, issued the alarming statement today as NATO leaders meet in Romania to discuss the next phase of support for Kyiv – with advanced missile defenses leading the way. agenda.
“If … NATO provides Kyiv fanatics with Patriot complexes with NATO personnel, they will immediately become a legitimate target of our armed forces,” he said.
“I hope the powerless in the Atlantic will understand this.”
NATO plans to send Patriot missile defenses to Ukraine to protect its key infrastructure, after Russia began targeting its electricity and water networks (file image)
Medvedev, who released the statement via his Telegram account, did not specify whether the targets would be Patriot systems, NATO crews or NATO itself.
Shortly after Medvedev’s message appeared, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv needed the Patriot missiles to protect its key infrastructure.
In recent weeks, Russia has launched hundreds of suicide missiles and drones at Ukrainian power and water plants, leaving people frozen in their homes.
“The message is simple: give Patriots as soon as you can because this is the system Ukraine needs to protect its civilian population and infrastructure,” he said.
Mr Kuleba added that he would work with the German government to get his hands on the weapons – which are designed to shoot down incoming missiles.
Germany has already offered Patriot batteries to Poland after a rocket hit its eastern border with Ukraine earlier this month, killing two people.
Initially it was thought that the missile might be Russian, but it was later ruled to be an incorrectly fired Ukrainian rocket. Warsaw refused to take the Patriots and suggested they be sent to Kyiv instead.
Millions of Ukrainians risk freezing in their homes this winter if power cannot be restored, which could trigger a new wave of refugees (file image)
“If Germany is ready to supply patriots to Poland and Poland is ready to hand them over to Ukraine, I think the solution… is obvious,” Kuleba added.
The defense minister also said components to repair Ukraine’s badly damaged power grid should also be a priority for NATO allies.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met with Kuleba today, said support for Ukraine “remains strong, resolute and determined”.
The supply of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine would mark a major advance in the types of air defense systems the West sends to help the war-torn country defend against Russian air attacks.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has confirmed that deliveries of such sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems are under consideration. The military organization has no weapons, only its member countries have them.
A senior US defense official who briefed Pentagon reporters on Tuesday, on condition of anonymity, said the United States was willing to provide patriots.
While Ukraine has requested the system for months, the United States and its allies have been reluctant to provide it to avoid further provoking Russia.
Russia has warned NATO will become a ‘legitimate target’ if it hands over one of the missile batteries (file image, a howitzer is fired by Ukrainian troops)
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that his country’s offer to send patriots to Poland remained on the table, despite Warsaw’s suggestion to go to Ukraine instead.
Ukraine has no personnel trained to use the Patriots – a complex air defense system of which there are three main types, with varying ranges and altitudes.
Germany loaned them to Slovakia and Turkey but sent its own technicians to operate the missiles.
NATO allies would almost certainly refuse to send military personnel to Ukraine, to avoid being drawn into a wider war with nuclear-armed Russia.
They would also want guarantees that Ukraine would only use the missiles to defend its airspace and not fire them into Russian territory.