US, allies announce additional air defense systems for Ukraine

By Steve Holland and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and its allies will deliver to Ukraine five additional air defense systems, including Patriot missile batteries and Patriot components, the leaders of those countries said in a joint statement during the NATO summit.

They added that in the coming months, they intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of tactical air defense systems.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

Washington, Ukraine's biggest supporter, has provided more than $50 billion in military aid since 2022. But U.S. military aid was delayed in Congress for months over the winter, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said a shortage of weapons was giving Russia the upper hand.

After battle lines remained largely frozen since early in the conflict, Moscow made some advances in eastern Ukraine in recent months. Zelenskiy has urged Western governments to increase and speed up military aid to Kyiv's forces.

U.S. legislation was approved in April that provided $61 billion in funding to Ukraine. Zelenskiy said last week he wanted to double Ukraine's air defense capacity over the summer.

KEY QUOTE

President Joe Biden made the announcement in remarks at the NATO summit. A joint statement was later issued by the leaders of the U.S., the Netherlands, Romania, Italy, Germany and Ukraine.

"We are providing Ukraine with additional strategic air defense systems, including additional Patriot batteries donated by the United States, Germany, and Romania; Patriot components donated by the Netherlands and other partners to enable the operation of an additional Patriot battery; and an additional SAMP-T system donated by Italy," the joint statement said.

CONTEXT

Ukraine has repeatedly called on partners to provide more help with air defense as it faces attacks from Russia on cities and energy infrastructure.

Ukraine said Russia blasted the main children's hospital in Kyiv with a missile on Monday and rained missiles down on other cities across Ukraine, killing at least 41 civilians in the deadliest wave of air strikes for months.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, although its attacks have killed thousands of civilians since it launched its invasion.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)