Coinciding with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a $1.85 billion package of new arms assistance, including a Patriot missile system.
Moscow has repeatedly warned Western powers of the consequences of weapons assistance to Kiev.
The delivery of a battery of Patriot missile systems to Ukraine will prolong the Ukrainian security crisis, but cannot alter its outcome, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said.
“Our adversaries proceed from the idea that this is supposedly a defensive weapon. Alright, we’ll keep that in mind. And an antidote can always be found,” Putin said, speaking to reporters after a meeting of the Russian State Council on Thursday. The president assured that the Patriot deliveries will be “in vain,” and would “just prolong the conflict, that’s all.”
As for the combat characteristics of the Patriot missile system, Putin said it was “a rather old system that does not work like, say, our S-300.”
The US promised to send a battery of Patriot missile systems to Kiev as part of a fresh package of aid which includes $1 billion worth of weaponry taken directly from the US military’s own stocks. A battery of Patriots consists of six launchers and support equipment, including phased array radar, optional radar antenna masts, optional diesel generators, and an engagement control/operations centre.
Putin also touched on a number of other issues, reiterating that Russia had been “fooled” in the mid-to-late 2010s by trying to resolve the slow-burning Ukrainian crisis via the Minsk Agreements, and stating that the goals of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine included defending Donbass and pro-Russian Ukrainians in Ukraine proper.
“Our goal isn’t to further whip up the Ukrainian conflict, but on the contrary, to bring this war to an end. We are striving in this direction and will continue to do so,” Putin said. “All armed conflicts end one way or another with some kind of negotiations on the diplomatic track. Russia never refused negotiations with Ukraine, it was Kiev that prohibited itself from dialog.”
“Nevertheless, sooner or later, of course, parties in a state of conflict will sit down and come to an agreement. The sooner this realization comes to those opposing us, the better,” Putin said.
The crisis is forcing Moscow to spend its reserves of weaponry, but these are incomparably larger than those that Kiev has at its disposal, Putin said. “I won’t give figures here on say, how many shells we spend per day. These are big numbers. But the difference between us and…the Ukrainian military-industrial complex – is that if it has not been completely expended, it is approaching that point. Soon nothing will be left of their base.”
Kiev’s Western patrons also face problems in delivering fresh stocks of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine, Putin said.
“I think the resources of the United States and NATO countries are not yet at the state of exhaustion. The thing is, Ukraine is receiving weapons from the countries of the former Warsaw Pact, mostly Soviet-made, and these really are close to exhaustion. Of these deliveries we have knocked out virtually everything,” Putin said.
The West can now proceed with the delivery of their own weapons systems to Ukraine, but it is not easy to make the switch to the alternative, new standard, Putin said. The US, for example, “are now saying that they can put a Patriot [in Ukraine]. Okay, let them do it. We will crack the Patriot [like a nut] too, and something will need to be installed in its place, new systems need to be developed – this is a complex and lengthy process.”
In the meantime, the Russian military will be preparing, will train new personnel, and ensure adequate stocks of spare parts and repair capabilities, Putin said.
Finally, amid renewed interest in US media in who blew up the Nord Stream pipelines, Putin commented on the issue, saying the act of terror was carried out by those who would like to see Russian gas to Europe flowing only through Ukraine.
Image credit: Ra Boe / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 de