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US to rush air defense missiles to Ukraine

GreenWatch Desk World News 2024-06-20, 11:40pm


The White House announced Thursday it would move Ukraine to the front of the line for deliveries of powerful air defense missiles, after a barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks damaged energy facilities throughout the besieged country.

Hundreds of newly-made Patriot and NASAMS missiles – used for surface-to-air defense – will go to Ukraine ahead of other nations who have ordered them, National Security Council communications adviser John Kirby said. He emphasized that planned deliveries to Taiwan and Israel will not be affected by this move, and that the other nations waiting for their shipments were “broadly supportive” when they were informed of Washington’s decision.
“Obviously more is needed and it's needed now,” Kirby told journalists during a phone briefing with journalists. “So, as a result, the United States government has made the difficult but necessary decision to reprioritize near-term planned deliveries of foreign military sales to other countries of, particularly, Patriot and NASAMS missiles to go to Ukraine instead.”
A massive overnight Russian missile and drone attack damaged energy facilities throughout Ukraine, a day after the country announced rolling blackouts because of war-related power shortages, reports VOA.
Ukraine’s national power provider Ukrenergo said early Thursday an overnight attack on a thermal plant caused serious damage and wounded three workers.
"Equipment at facilities in Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kyiv regions got damaged," the Ukrenergo statement added.
On Wednesday, Ukrenergo announced hourly rolling blackouts would be implemented throughout the country. Russian drone and missile strikes have cut Ukraine’s power-generating capabilities to half of what they were last year, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier this month.
In his daily address, Zelenskyy said government officials were looking for ways to improve the situation.
"We are preparing solutions that will ensure a more reliable passage of the heating season and give people more opportunities to get through this extremely difficult period, in terms of energy shortages and outages," he said.
The Ukrainian air force said it shot down five out of nine missiles and all 27 drones launched by Russia over 10 Ukrainian regions during Thursday's attack.
The military said Russia mostly targeted eastern Ukraine, specifically the Dnipropetrovsk region.
Dnipropetrovsk's governor said three men were injured in the attack, which also damaged seven homes.
In Russia, the governor of the southern Krasnodar region said an overnight Ukrainian drone attack targeted oil storage facilities.
Governor Venyamin Kondratyev said a woman was killed in an attack on the city of Slavyansk-na-Kubani.
Russia’s defense agreement with North Korea this week, prompted a bipartisan group of US Senators to renew calls to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
"This is one of the most important decisions our generation of politicians will make, because if we made Russia state sponsored terrorism, it would change the momentum in Ukraine overnight. It would be a morale boost to the Ukrainians. It would make it hard for anybody to do business with Russia, and it would further isolate this regime," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters Thursday.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said he had spoken with the Biden administration about the effort to secure the designation but has not discussed it since the announcement of Russia’s security partnership.
“It is deeply scary, because it signals cooperation, not only against Ukraine, but against the United States,” Blumenthal said.