Repair, destroy, repair again. The Ukrainian government fear that this is the cycle that is imposed after the commitment of Western countries, especially the United States, to help revive the Ukrainian electricity system, damaged by sustained Russian attacks. and asks that equipped with Patriot missile systems. But the United States and Germany, for now, refuse. Others, like Poland, consider it the best option to create an air shield that prevents not only the suffering of Ukrainian civilians but, at the same time, incidents on Polish soil, such as the one that occurred a few weeks ago.
The Patriot (MIM-104) is one of the most advanced surface-to-air anti-missile systems. They are manufactured by the American company Raytheon. They are long-range: up to 70 kilometers.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken Rule out for the moment sending these anti-aircraft systems. After meeting with his NATO counterparts in Romania, he has assured that, however, there is a plan to protect damaged generators, transformers and other elements of the electrical network, but he has not specified which one.
The usual argument for not sending advanced weapons with NATO standards is that, first, could be seen by Russia as an escalation in the war, something the West wants to avoid. And, on the other hand, that these complex systems need training, spare parts and sophisticated repairs.
But that is something that also applies to the HAWK anti-aircraft systems and the Aspide shuttles that have already been sent by, among other countries, Spain. The Spanish government has even been training Ukrainian soldiers. So why don’t they ship Patriot batteries? Despite persistent questions from journalists present in Bucharest, Blinken has not given a clear answer. He has recognized that sending material to guarantee the electricity supply and protect it “They are two faces of the same coin”.
But sending military aid to Ukraine it’s a work in progress, fluid, he says, that has to be adapted every day to the needs on the ground, and it is the planners who prepare the most appropriate strategy. “We are carrying out replacements and repairs for electrical infrastructures, we act quickly and in a coordinated manner [con Kiev]”, He says. “But we want to not just send them defense systems, but make sure they can use them, and that requires training and maintenance.”
These arguments are not bought by kyiv. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says they are ready to operate the Patriots. He insists they are needed now to protect civilian lives and infrastructure after Russia’s heavy-handed airstrikes in recent weeks. Queues to fetch water and areas submerged in total darkness at night have been seen. An important part of the electrical system is damaged, and something similar happens with the heating.
Kuleba rules out that Russia sees it as an escalation of the conflict. After all, they are nothing more than “purely defensive systems”. And he points to Germany: he is going to continue talking with Berlin, which offered them to Poland, a NATO country, to protect it after the incident two weeks ago in which missiles from the battlefield in Ukraine landed, presumably by accident, on Polish soil and killed two people. Warsaw has asked that they be sent directly to kyiv. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak insisted today: the Placing the Patriot anti-missile system on the western border of Ukraine is the best way to protect Polish territory, as well as Ukrainian territory.
But Germany does not move from its initial offer: “Our proposal to the Polish government to defend its own country has not been removed from the agenda,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said this Wednesday at a press conference in Berlin.
Ukraine has taken the opportunity to clamp down on Berlin. In Kuleba’s opinion, the transfer of these systems should not be a problem “if Germany is willing to supply the Patriots to Poland and Poland has nothing against delivering them” to Ukraine.
Olaf Scholz’s government has been reluctant at all times to have material manufactured in Germany deployed on Ukrainian soil, or to make shipments of heavy weapons. It happened with the Leopard tanks that Ukraine asked Spainand it happens now with the Patriots.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, for his part, stressed that “the Allies have sent generators and necessary parts to repair the damaged network.” He has not ruled out sending the Patriots entirely, and has passed the decision on to Germany.
Meanwhile, Ukraine has taken advantage of the meeting of NATO ministers and related countries in Bucharest to remind them that they still urgently need “hundreds of transformers” and “thousands of generators”. He thanks the allies that, like Spain, have promised to send this type of electrical equipment that Ukraine needs to restore electricity supply throughout its territory.
Washington emphasizes that, from the first day of the war, even before, they have placed in the hands of Ukraine the weapons they need to defend themselves against aggression. “We gave [misiles] Stingers and Javelins, and every week since then we’ve been adjusting to events.”