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Jun 20, 2024, 1:35pm EDT
North America
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Semafor Signals

US prioritizes air-defense systems for Ukraine, halts shipments for some allies

Insights from Politico EU, Le Monde, and DefenseNews

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U.S. Army MIM-104 Patriots in Poland
REUTERS/Stringer
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The US is halting the delivery of air-defense systems — specifically Patriot and NASAM missile interceptors — to some of its allies to prioritize Ukraine instead, as Kyiv struggles to deal with increased Russian strikes.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby described the decision as “difficult but necessary.”

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Ukraine has urgently called on its Western allies to deliver more air-defense systems, which can intercept missiles or rockets that Russia has aimed at Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.

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Kyiv tries to cobble together air-defense systems

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Sources:  
Politico EU, Le Monde

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has intensified his calls for the country’s allies to provide interceptor missiles, looking to all the allies to collectively donate enough to create a cohesive defense system. Germany has promised to deliver three of its platforms, and pushed for other European countries to follow suit. But that initiative has largely “fallen flat,” Politico EU reported. That’s partly because European countries want “to protect their own airspace,” Le Monde noted. The momentum may be shifting: Romania agreed Thursday to send a Patriot missile system to Ukraine.

South Korea may feel the delay most

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Sources:  
The Wall Street Journal, DefenseNews

White House spokesperson John Kirby declined to specify which countries would have their shipments of missiles delayed as a result of the US’ decision, beyond that it would not impact Taiwan. “We’ll do the best we can to minimize their delay as much as possible,” Kirby said. Citing a congressional source, The Wall Street Journal reported that South Korea and the United Arab Emirates had contracts to buy interceptors and will likely be affected by the prioritization of Ukraine. Interceptors are becoming increasingly important for South Korea as the North builds up its rocket arsenal; Seoul has recently completed its own long-range air defense system, and is now developing a more advanced version, DefenseNews reported.

— Morgan Chalfant contributed to this report.

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