US will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system after Kyiv's desperate calls for air defenses

Two U.S. officials say the United States will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system
FILE - A Patriot missile mobile launcher is displayed outside the Fort Sill Army Post near Lawton, Okla., on March 21, 2023. Two U.S. officials say the United States will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system. It answers Kyiv's desperate calls for more air defenses as it battles against an intense Russian assault on the northeastern Kharkiv region. (AP Photo/Sean Murphy, File)

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FILE - A Patriot missile mobile launcher is displayed outside the Fort Sill Army Post near Lawton, Okla., on March 21, 2023. Two U.S. officials say the United States will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system. It answers Kyiv's desperate calls for more air defenses as it battles against an intense Russian assault on the northeastern Kharkiv region. (AP Photo/Sean Murphy, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system, two U.S. officials said Tuesday, answering Kyiv's desperate calls for more air defenses as it battles an intense Russian assault on the northeastern Kharkiv region.

The officials said President Joe Biden has approved the move. It would be the second Patriot system that the U.S. has given to Ukraine, although the Pentagon has routinely provided an undisclosed number of missiles for the system. Other allies, including Germany, also have provided air defense systems as well as munitions for them.

The two U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced. The decision was first reported by The New York Times.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy late last month pleaded for additional U.S.-made Patriot systems, arguing that they will help his forces fight the close to 3,000 bombs that he said Russia launches into the country every month.

Speaking in Madrid, Zelenskyy said Ukraine still urgently needs another seven of the systems to fend off Russian strikes against the power grid and civilian areas, as well as military targets, with devastating glide bombs that wreak wide destruction.

He said Ukraine needs two of the systems to protect Kharkiv, where Russia launched a cross-border offensive on May 10 that still has Ukrainian troops reeling.

“If we had these modern Patriot systems, (Russian) airplanes wouldn’t be able to fly close enough to drop the (glide) bombs on the civilian population and the military,” Zelenskyy told a news conference in the Spanish capital.

The decision comes as defense leaders from the U.S., Europe and other nations prepare for their monthly meeting on Ukraine's security needs. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will host the meeting in Brussels on Thursday.

The U.S. has routinely pressed for allies to provide air defense systems to Ukraine, but many are reluctant to give up the high-tech systems — particularly countries in eastern Europe that also feel threatened by Russia.

The U.S. also is wary of giving too many away, since they are used all over the world to protect U.S. forces and allies.

Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Monday that Ukraine's need for air defense will be a topic at the meeting.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stands in front of a Patriot air defense missile system during a visit to a military training area in the German state of Western Pomerania, Tuesday, June 11, 20242, to learn about the training of Ukrainian soldiers on the "Patriot" air defence missile system. (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

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