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Ukraine wants legendary Gulf War Patriots fame in US as Russia steps up attack

Kyiv: Ukraine has called on the United States to provide it with the legendary Patriot missiles and other high-tech air defense systems to counter Russian attacks, as new Russian bombardments were reported in eastern Ukraine on Monday. Ukraine where Moscow is trying to win on the battlefield.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told the French channel LCI that Russia wants to flood Europe with a new wave of Ukrainian refugees by targeting infrastructure in Ukraine that has caused power and water outages for millions as winter intensifies.

Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine would greatly enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend against Russian air attacks. So far, no country has offered them to Ukraine, although Germany has supplied Patriot missiles to neighboring Poland, its NATO ally.

The legend of the patriot

Patriot (MIM-104) is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defense system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. It is in service with the United States and allied nations including Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Poland, Sweden , Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Spain and Taiwan.

The Patriot missile system gained prestige during the 1991 Persian Gulf War with the claimed engagement of over 40 Iraqi Scud missiles. It was deployed by US forces during the 2003 Iraq conflict. The missile has a range of 70 km and a maximum altitude of over 24 km. The minimum flight time is less than nine seconds, while the maximum is three and a half minutes.

The Patriot missile is produced by Raytheon in Massachusetts and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Florida.

Ukrainian woes continue

Millions of Ukrainians have already fled the country since the Russian invasion began on February 24, and many more are feared to leave their homes over the winter. Thousands of people have died and dozens of towns and villages across Ukraine have been reduced to rubble in the more than nine months of Russian assault.

Ukraine also needs resupply of artillery shells and modern battle tanks, Shmyhal said in an interview broadcast Sunday evening ahead of meetings in Paris this week to mobilize and coordinate more international aid to Ukraine. The more than 1,000 Russian attacks on infrastructure since October are designed “to trigger a new wave of migration to Europe”, he insisted.

The Kremlin said the attacks on Ukraine’s energy supply system were retaliation for what Moscow calls a Kiev-orchestrated attack on the key Russian-built bridge to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia has annexed in 2014.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke on the phone with US President Joe Biden. Biden sought “to underscore continued U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure,” the White House said.

Repeated Russian strikes on infrastructure have left millions of Ukrainians without electricity, heat or water across the country. Russian drone attacks near the Black Sea port of Odessa last weekend destroyed several energy facilities at once and left all customers except hospitals, maternity wards, boiler rooms and pumping stations without electricity.

Ukrainian electricity supplier Ukrenergo said on Monday that the situation in the country’s energy system remained difficult after the Russian attacks, particularly in Odessa.

To defend against further strikes, Shmyhal reiterated previous Ukrainian calls for Patriot surface-to-air missiles – a highly sophisticated system that has yet to be fielded. He also requested more German and French air defense systems than those countries have already supplied.

Ukraine needs large amounts of shells to respond similarly against Russian artillery, Shmyhal said. Russia is firing 50,000 to 70,000 shells a day at Ukrainian targets and “we need at least a third of that amount every day”, he added.

Conference organizers in France say they expect more than 45 nations and 20 international institutions to attend. One of the objectives of the meeting will be to quickly deliver aid to Ukraine to meet its water, electricity, food, health and transport needs during the harsh winter months and to send a message to Moscow indicating that the international community stands by Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers consider new sanctions

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers were also meeting in Brussels on Monday to discuss new sanctions aimed at further punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney strongly condemned “Russia’s deliberate targeting of civilians in terms of inflicting suffering on a large population”. He described Russia’s actions as “a crime, both in terms of aggression and a crime against humanity.”

“It’s one country invading another,” he said. “Brutalizing civilian populations to try to get what he wants, and I think the world needs to try to take a stand against that.”

On Monday, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said two civilians were killed and 10 others injured in the Russian shelling of the town of Hirnyk in the eastern Donetsk region.

“It was yet another Russian attack on civilians,” Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on his messaging app channel.

The eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk together form Donbass, a vast industrial region bordering Russia that Putin identified as a priority from the start of the war and where Moscow-backed separatists have fought since 2014.

In September, Russia illegally declared the annexation of four Ukrainian regions – including Donbass – although it does not fully control them.

The latest fighting has been concentrated in Donbass, particularly around the town of Bakhmut, after Ukrainian forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson nearly a month ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin is now looking to make visible gains.

Russia has shelled Kostiantynivka and fighting is taking place around Avdiivka, Мarinka and Krasnohorivka in the same area, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukrainian governor of the Russian-occupied Luhansk region Serhiy Haidai said a Ukrainian strike on Kadiivka on Sunday hit a hotel that served as the headquarters of the Wagner Group, a Russian military contractor. He claimed that hundreds of Russians had been killed, a claim that could not be independently verified.

Haidai also pointed to a difficult humanitarian situation in the Ukrainian-controlled village of Nevske, where people are living in basements following relentless Russian shelling.

With contributions from AFP

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