War in Ukraine

Ukraine Needs The Damn Patriots And It Needs Them Now

air shield ukraine war

Russia’s relentless bombing campaign is devastating Ukraine. Cities crumble and troops fall prey to precision strikes. The West holds the key: Patriots.

Ukraine has a serious problem. It is increasingly outgunned in the skies. Russia is indiscriminately using ballistic missiles and upgraded guided bombs that Ukraine can’t easily counter, picking apart frontline troops, hammering critical infrastructure, and killing civilians. Every day that goes by seems to make Russia’s war machine stronger and Ukraine’s position more uncertain.

Yes, Ukraine has strengthened its air defense and destroyed multiple Russian jets since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. Yet not much has been able to stop Russia from reforming its air force and modernising its weapons. So it seems Ukraine needs a hand.

Russia’s new weapon of choice

Russia’s advances in Ukraine are being fueled by the extensive use of “drop-and-forget” guided bombs containing foreign components. A Ukrainian government analysis reveals that up to 500 of the Kh-59MK2 KAB bombs are being launched weekly. These high-explosive cluster bombs, fitted with upgraded high-precision guiding systems that offer a range of 40-60km, pose a critical threat on the frontline and are pushing back Ukrainian forces.

“You cannot jam them. It just falls on your head and destroys everything. This is how we’re losing positions and the only way to prevent this is to shoot down the planes carrying the bombs,” commented Dmytro Kuleba, when describing the danger posed by KABs. “We need air defense systems on the frontlines,” he added.

According to a recent government report obtained and quoted by the Guardian, these precision weapons deployed from afar by aircraft “played a key role in the destruction of Avdiivka and the seizure of its ruins by Russia”.

But it’s not just the troops that are paying the price. Russia’s relentless bombing campaign against Ukrainian cities has a clear goal: demoralization. Knock out the lights, cripple basic services, and maybe, just maybe, break the Ukrainians' will to fight.

This tactic is especially apparent in Kharkiv, with Russia dramatically escalating its attacks on Ukraine’s second-largest city, with the apparent goal of rendering it desolate. Since December 2023, Kharkiv has been struck by more ballistic missiles than at any point during the war. Russia has also deployed glide bombs against the city, along with increased drone assaults. This wave of attacks has devastated civilian areas and plunged the city into darkness by targeting critical infrastructure.

Ukrainian officials have been clear: they need advanced systems like the American Patriot missile defense batteries. In an interview with Politico, Foreign Minister Kuleba bluntly states: “Give us the damn Patriots.”

Ukraine isn’t asking for European soldiers on the ground, but the air defense capabilities to level the playing field are paramount.

So just give Ukraine the damn Patriots, what’s the problem?

Ukraine needs Patriot air defense systems to help stop Russia’s relentless missile attacks. President Zelenskyy has been clear about this, stating that even a few of these systems would make a huge difference in protecting critical infrastructure, civilians, and the Ukrainian frontline. Here’s how:


The US aid package that could give Ukraine a fighting chance is frozen in political stalemate. And European nations, despite support, cannot cover the full range of needs. The solution lies in a global, unified effort. But so far, Western allies haven’t delivered what Ukraine has been asking for. Why?

Fear of Russian retaliation

Some European countries are worried that if they help Ukraine too much, Russia will target them next. In a recent interview, Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, noted: “It seems to European countries that literally tomorrow Russia will attack them with missiles. Including the same ballistic, hypersonic ones that attacked Ukraine. Our partner countries still experience internal fear, so the logic is this: let’s just let Patriot stand with us.”

Fear of Russian escalation

Some allies are stuck in the mindset that giving Ukraine more powerful weapons will escalate the war. But the reality is the opposite — the slower Ukraine gets help, the more Russia feels it can get away with, leading to more attacks, not less.

​​“Partners still think that if we transfer something to Kyiv in large quantities, this will contribute to the escalation of the war, its scaling. In fact, everything looks the other way around. The slower supplies go to Ukraine, the faster this escalation occurs. Because Russia always thinks primitively, they say: Just a little more, and we will press on, a little more, and we will break it, destroy the pro-Ukrainian coalition, and win this war. Or at least we won’t lose,” commented Podolyak.

Fear of Russia itself

Unfortunately, some countries still believe they need to play nice with Russia. They see it as this grandiose military power they have to take into account and even respect, even though Russia evidently doesn’t play by rules the rest of the world tries to follow.

“There is still an attitude that Russia is a large military country and must be taken into account. It has its own interests. Yes, they run counter to the interests of democratic communities, but, nevertheless, we agreed on some kind of security construct. And let’s continue to somehow try to negotiate and the like. That is, this general pro-Russian fear can still be heard,” concluded Podolyak.

And lastly, there’s the question of actually finding the damn Patriots.

So where do we find the damn Patriots?

In January, several European nations, including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Romania, banded together to order up to 1,000 Patriot air defense missiles in response to the escalating Russian airstrikes against Ukraine. The NATO Support and Procurement Agency is coordinating the purchase, and COMLOG, a joint venture between MBDA Germany and RTX, was awarded a $5.5 billion production and delivery contract. But no specific delivery timeline for the missiles has been announced. But it’s not just the missiles that we’re missing.

Germany is prioritizing securing additional Patriot surface-to-air missile systems for Ukraine’s defense. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced that Germany, as leader of the Air Defense Coalition, will analyze global Patriot inventories to locate potential systems for transfer. This search is necessary as Patriot systems are in limited supply worldwide.

While Germany and other European NATO allies have some Patriot batteries, Germany may face challenges in negotiating their transfer from countries in Asia or the Middle East. Political factors and existing tensions could complicate the acquisition process.

It’s worth noting that a Patriot 'battery' is a flexible concept — it can include up to 8 missile launchers, a radar, a command post, and support vehicles. Countries often adjust this configuration based on their needs and budgets.

Germany’s quest to source Patriot systems for Ukraine is a complex endeavor, yet crucial for supporting Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression. A collaborative international effort will be necessary to find a solution that meets Ukraine’s needs and helps deter further Russian aggression.

Let’s hope we find the damn Patriots soon

As always, the reality is stark: if Ukraine can’t defend itself, it risks losing this war. And if that happens, Russia’s aggression may not stop at the Ukrainian border. Foreign Minister Kuleba puts it bluntly: “Ukraine can win. But if Ukraine loses, Putin will not stop.”

The West isn’t used to war on its doorstep, but it can’t afford to ignore this threat. Yes, the cost of action is high. But the cost of letting Russia run unchecked could be higher.

The longer we wait, the more lives, territory, and time Ukraine loses. Finding and sending the right weapons now could be the difference between a devastating defeat and a hard-won victory.

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