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How NATO states can help Ukraine in closing skies

How NATO states can help Ukraine in closing skies Photo: NATO countries can help Ukraine protect its skies with their Patriot systems (Getty Images)

NATO's assistance in closing the skies over Ukraine can be introduced in several ways. The first option is to deploy Patriot launchers along the Polish, Romanian, and Slovakian borders with Ukraine. If a Russian cruise missile or drone approaches, this system can hit the enemy target at a distance of 140-160 km from the border.

Aviation expert Kostiantyn Kryvolap explains in detail how Western partners could help Ukraine defend its skies and what Patriot has to do with it.

Do we have any problems with downing cruise missiles or Shaheds? We shoot them down with a probability of 80-100%. We hit most of the targets, and this figure is higher than the norms used in the calculation for NATO standards.

Our main problem is protection against ballistics. If a certain area is not protected by Patriot, SAMP/T, or the Israeli David's Sling system, these ballistic missiles will hit the targets.

But, unlike cruise missiles, the Patriot system has a shorter range against ballistic missiles - up to 40 kilometers. In reality, this range is 25-30 kilometers. So, if we really cram the borderline with these Western systems, they will only be able to protect the Yavoriv test site from ballistic missiles. There are no other facilities in this area that can cover our partners' complexes: neither Lviv, nor Stryi, nor Ivano-Frankivsk.

Another option is for our partners to decide that they and their complexes are located on our territory and shoot down Russian missiles over our territory. They will not shoot them down over Russian territory, it will be purely a defense and should not be seen as aggression against Russia. Besides, they can only protect civilian objects.

Potentially, Greece, for example, could provide its Patriot systems to protect Ukraine. They have 7 such systems, and one of them was transferred to Saudi Arabia for use. However, even the hit of a Russian missile near the prime minister while he was in Odesa did not affect his position. They believe that they need protection in case of a conflict with Türkiye.

On one hand, there are no technical obstacles to this decision, but on the other hand, it is a purely political decision that depends not on the Poles, or Western partners, but on one person only - Joseph Biden. The Patriot system is an American-designed system, so it is the United States that can authorize its use.

Kostiantyn Kryvolap for RBC-Ukraine