- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 14, 2022

The Defense Department is reportedly finalizing plans to ship the Patriot missile system to Ukraine to help defend against a barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks that have destroyed key infrastructure throughout the country.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin needs to sign off on the weapons transfer before it goes to the White House for President Biden’s final approval, CNN reported.

A Patriot battery, unlike other Western weapons systems provided to Ukraine, would be capable of knocking down Russian ballistic missiles and taking on targets much farther away. It is the primary surface-to-air defense system in the U.S. arsenal.

Pentagon officials would not publicly confirm the reports that the defensive missiles are heading to Ukraine.

“I don’t have anything to announce today,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday. “We do maintain a robust dialogue with our Ukrainian partners, with our allies, and our international partners on Ukraine’s security assistance needs.”

Gen. Ryder said the Pentagon is examining the “full spectrum of security assistance” available within the inventories of NATO and other nations that have been supporting Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in late February.

Russia has ramped up its drone and missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure targets while pulling back ground troops and taking up defensive positions in the east and south.

Ukrainian forces said they shot down 13 drones Wednesday as Russia launched its first major attack in weeks on Kyiv, the Reuters news agency reported.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the capital city’s central Shevchenkivskyi district was hit by debris and two administrative buildings were damaged.

“It is obvious the Russian military feels confident only when attacking peaceful cities,” Ukraine’s defense ministry said in a Twitter post. “Today, the Ukrainian air defense took the terrorists down a peg by shooting down 13 out of 13 Shahed 136/131 drones.”

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was pouring cold water on hopes of a slowdown in the Russian campaign with winter and the holiday season approaching. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the U.S. and other Group of Seven members this week to press the Kremlin to withdraw troops beginning on Christmas.

Mr. Peskov said Moscow had no interest in a Christmas cease-fire or pullback.

“No, no such offers have been received from anybody. This topic is not on the agenda,” he told reporters.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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