No, no, no – you have GOT to be kidding me. Escalation, anyone?
Pentagon preparing to send Patriot missile system to Ukraine
It’s the most advanced air-defense system in the U.S. arsenal. The plan follows weeks of Russian bombardment on the country’s electrical grid
For an administration that is the quintessence of Lousy Ideas HQ, this takes the cake – God willing, not Russian yellowcake. YOICKS.
Things hadn’t gotten quite this far last Friday when another tranche of cash was announced, headed President Zelensky’s way, along with some more HIMARS rockets. Not for the lack of the Ukrainian president’s rattling the cage bars, mind you. He’s been pretty adamant that they want them. Until this news today, cooler heads have prevailed.
…So far the US has resisted supplying Ukraine with the sophisticated air defence systems, while a recent attempt by Poland to get Germany to deploy a Patriot battery into the country was rejected by Berlin.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, also pressed US leader Joe Biden for more help in protecting the country’s battered energy grid in a Sunday night phone call, although he did not publicly specify what weapons he wanted. Waves of Russian attacks since October had destroyed 50% of the network, he added.
“The President also emphasised the importance of capable air defence. Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on President Biden to do everything possible to help protect the civilian population of Ukraine and its critical infrastructure,” Kyiv said in its readout of the conversation between the two.
The White House emphasised in its readout that the US had authorised a further $275m of military aid on Friday, including rockets for the Himars artillery system. But the Pentagon has shown no sign of approving the export of Patriots, best known for knocking out Iraqi Scud missiles in the first Gulf war.
No one in the U.K.’s been listening to Boris Johnson so far either and for good reason.
…In London, former prime minister Boris Johnson took another tack, calling on the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, in the Commons to arm Ukraine with long range ATACMS missiles to “take out” the launch sites of Russian drones and missiles that are currently battering the country’s civilians and its power grid.
Long sought by the Ukrainians, the missiles have a range of up to 300km, but so far the US and its allies, including the UK, have declined to supply them because they could be used to hit targets inside Russia. Supplying them would help “bring the war to an end as soon as possible”, Johnson said.
Hitting targets in Russia with British or American-made and supplied long-range missiles is a dandy way to blow Putin’s top, literally and figuratively. Neither we nor the world is prepared for what he is completely capable of doing.
British defense secretary Ben Wallace hedged his bets, though.
…Wallace did not rule anything out, saying that continued targeting of the electricity grid by Russia may prompt a change of policy: “Should the Russians continue to target civilian areas and try and break those Geneva conventions, then I will be open-minded to seeing what we do next.”
“What we do next” is how I’m figuring we wound up at this point today. The Russians have spent the weekend battering more of the civilian infrastructure, even as Ukrainian forces have continued to strike deeper into Russian-held territory with drones and our HIMARS MLRS system.
According to the Russian accounts, the attack was carried out by the US-Supplied HIMARS at the hotel, which the Wagner PMC fighters used as a makeshift base.
Serhiy Haidai, the exiled governor of Luhansk, claimed that Ukraine had attacked a hotel in Kadiivka, a city west of Luhansk, in an interview with Ukrainian television on Sunday. A “huge number” of Wagner fighters perished in the onslaught, Haidai said.
Although Haidai did not provide casualty numbers, he stated that those who survived the attack faced insufficient medical care. Sources in Kyiv claim that the Kadiivka strike caused “significant losses.”
The city, which Russian forces have occupied since March, is believed to have been hit by at least four missiles. The pictures and videos that quickly went viral on various social media platforms appeared to depict the aftermath of the missile attack.
Western countries are ponying up even more cash to get the Ukrainians through the winter, and many, I’m sure, thinking in terms of avoiding – or at least mitigating – an even more desperate refugee crisis if they don’t act.
The swirling questions concerning Vladimir Putin’s health aren’t helping the situation. Is the man dying, just sick, being treated for what, with what?
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not hold his annual year-end press conference for the first time in a decade, prompting speculation that the Russian leader is sick or running scared from answering questions about Ukraine as the war enters its 10th month.
“As for the big press conference, yes, it won’t happen before the New Year,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday.
“But we hope that the president will still find an opportunity to talk with [journalists], as he regularly does, including during foreign [visits],” Peskov added.
While Peskov gave no reason behind the move, the war in Ukraine and Russian troops having to make repeated retreats in recent weeks were likely both factors in choosing to break the tradition.
The move also draws attention to suspicions that Putin’s health is on the decline, especially following reports last week that he fell down the stairs and soiled himself.
Is the man in control of his faculties (which were always pretty terrifyingly cold-blooded, to begin with)? The last thing we need on EARTH is the senile dolt in the White House blundering his way into a nuclear superpower conflict with a drug-addled, nationalist sociopath who’s already having a bad war that he started.
I think we could stand on that precipice today if this goes forward. Ukrainians aren’t going to listen to any restrictions on where and when they can fire these off. And obviously, the Russians are going to see this as a direct intervention.
The Pentagon is preparing to send the Patriot missile system to Ukraine, two senior U.S. officials said Tuesday, a move that would provide the government in Kyiv with the most advanced air defense system in the American arsenal as Russia carries out an unrelenting assault on the country’s electrical grid.
The plan is not yet approved by President Biden or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, but it could be soon, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail sensitive internal deliberations. The effort would seem intended to address one of Ukraine’s biggest and most frequent requests of Washington since the war began, and follows weeks of Russian bombardment that has plunged much of the country into cold and darkness as winter takes hold.
…It was not clear Tuesday why the Biden administration may relent and send the Patriot after months of having assessed that it was not necessary or possible. A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, was asked about the Patriot system during a news briefing but said the Defense Department had nothing to announce.
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Monday that the Biden administration wants to blunt “any Russian effort” to gain an upper hand in Ukraine, “whether it’s military advantage or advantage through brutalizing and destroying civilian infrastructure.”
Patriots are surface-to-air missiles that can hit a target 90 miles out, zip along somewhere in the neighborhood of Mach 3+, and have an altitude ceiling of 79,500 feet. They are mighty defensive weapons and run about $6M per.
That makes them pretty expensive to use to hit incoming Russian drones – but then the Ukrainians aren’t paying for any of them.
However, the cost could well be more than the world could bear if it took out a Russian plane.
We’d all pay.