Germany to send additional Patriot air defence system to Ukraine

Kyiv is struggling on the battlefield against Moscow's forces

It will be the third Patriot system Berlin has supplied to Kyiv. AP
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Germany has said it will send an additional Patriot air defence system to Ukraine to bolster its hard-pressed military and help it fend off increased Russian aerial attacks.

“Russian terror against Ukrainian cities and the country's infrastructure is causing immeasurable suffering,” said German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, announcing the move.

“It is jeopardising people's energy supply and destroying the operational readiness of the Ukrainian armed forces.”

It will be the third Patriot system Berlin has supplied to Kyiv, with the Defence Ministry saying the decision was taken at the request of the Ukrainian government and in co-ordination with allies.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke by phone to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday, reaffirming his “unwavering solidarity with Ukraine in the face of massive and ongoing Russian air strikes, particularly on civilian energy infrastructure”, a German government spokesman said.

As well as discussing Germany's delivery of a new Patriot system, Mr Scholz and Mr Zelenskyy agreed that “further efforts by partners are also required” to boost Ukraine's air defence, the spokesman said.

Mr Zelenskyy wrote on the Telegram messaging app that he had had “a productive conversation” with Mr Scholz. “I call on all other leaders of partner states to follow this example,” he said.

The announcement comes as Ukraine struggles on the battlefield against Moscow's forces, hobbled by a lack of foreign aid, as well as a shortage of men and ammunition.

Russia has been stepping up aerial attacks on Ukraine. On Thursday Moscow pounded the country's energy facilities, destroying a power station in the Kyiv region.

Ukraine's army chief said on Saturday the situation on the eastern front had worsened in recent days as fighting raged for control of a village west of the devastated city of Bakhmut.

The statement by Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi more than two years since Russia's invasion reflected the grim mood in Kyiv as vital US military aid that Ukraine expected to receive months ago remains stuck in Congress.

Col Gen Syrskyi said he travelled to the area to stabilise the front as Russian assault groups using tanks and armoured personnel carriers took advantage of dry, warm weather that has made it easier to manoeuvre.

“The situation on the eastern front in recent days has grown considerably more tense. This is linked primarily to the significant activisation of offensive action by the enemy after the presidential elections in Russia,” Col Gen Syrskyi wrote on the Telegram app.

Russia's Defence Ministry said its forces had captured Pervomaiske, a village to the south also in Ukraine's Donetsk region where Moscow has focused its offensive operations for months.

Moscow said its troops had improved their tactical position on the front line there after capturing the village 8km south-west of occupied Avdiivka. Kyiv did not immediately comment on the status of Pervomaiske.

After the outbreak of the Ukraine war in 2022, Germany dropped a traditionally pacifist stance and has become Kyiv's second-biggest supplier of military aid, after the US.

However, a key package of US aid for Kyiv has been held up due to political squabbling in Congress.

As well as Patriots, Berlin has supplied a wide array of other armaments, ranging from artillery to armoured fighting vehicles.

The Defence Ministry said the handover of the new Patriot system from German military stocks would begin immediately.

Despite Germany delivering billions of euros of military supplies to Ukraine, Mr Scholz has come under fire in recent months for refusing to allow the supply of long-range Taurus missiles.

Germany fears the missiles could be used to hit targets deep within Russia.

Updated: April 14, 2024, 8:41 AM