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Germany's initiative to strengthen Ukraine's air defense falls flat

Germany's initiative to strengthen Ukraine's air defense falls flat Illustrative photo (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Germany, despite promising Ukraine air defense systems and garnering support from allies, remains the only country to have taken concrete steps in this direction so far, as most countries have not followed Berlin's example, according to Politico.

To date, Berlin has delivered three out of 11 American-made Patriot missile defense batteries to Kyiv. Additionally, over 50 short-range Gepard air defense systems have been supplied to Ukraine, along with air-to-air missiles intended to protect against ballistic missiles, bombs, and drones attacking Ukrainian cities and critical infrastructure.

For several weeks, high-ranking German politicians have been urging allies to fulfill their commitments to transfer Patriot air and missile defense batteries to Ukraine. However, the response from other countries has been disappointing.

Germany has spent the last month promoting its Immediate Action on Air Defense initiative, but partner countries are reluctant to send the urgently needed batteries to Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the negotiations.

Although the German initiative includes alternative options such as SAMP/T, NASAMS, HAWK, IRIS-T, or S-300 air defense systems, the Patriot systems developed by Raytheon are the most effective against attacks. The advantages of the Patriot systems are clear, and Ukrainian troops are already trained to use them.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has made it clear that there "are systems that can be made available to Ukraine." But coordinating how they will reach Ukrainian soldiers is not easy.

While not many missile systems are being sent east, countries are taking on smaller commitments.

The German Ministry of Defense reported that Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Canada, and the Netherlands have committed to funding, while France, Spain, Romania, Lithuania, Belgium, the United States, and the United Kingdom have pledged to provide materials and missiles. Latvia also wants to join the program, the ministry said.

Air defense for Ukraine

In response to the intensified missile and drone attacks by Russia this spring, Ukraine has faced a severe shortage of effective air defense means.

According to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, at least 25 Patriot systems are needed to reliably protect Ukrainian skies from occupier attacks.

Germany has taken the initiative to search for air defense systems for Ukraine and announced the transfer of one Patriot system.