Nato’s European members to buy 1,000 Patriot missiles, with Russia in mind

Published January 4, 2024
Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lieutenant General Sergiy Nayev (CR) awards a medal to Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy (CL), 42, who reportedly shot down a cruise missile using an M2 Browning machine gun during a recent attack on the Kyiv region, during a visit to Ukrainian Air Defence servicemen near Kyiv, on Jan 3, 2024. — AFP
Commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lieutenant General Sergiy Nayev (CR) awards a medal to Ukrainian serviceman Sergiy (CL), 42, who reportedly shot down a cruise missile using an M2 Browning machine gun during a recent attack on the Kyiv region, during a visit to Ukrainian Air Defence servicemen near Kyiv, on Jan 3, 2024. — AFP

BRUSSELS/MOSCOW: Nato members in Europe have signed a contract for up to 1,000 Patriot missiles to bolster air defences in the face of the threat from Russia, the alliance said on Wednesday.

The announcement of the contract, estimated to be worth $5.5 billion, comes as Moscow has unleashed repeated barrages of deadly missile and drone strikes against Ukraine in recent days.

Nato’s procurement agency said the deal agreed by an initial group of countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Romania and Spain would see Patriot missile production stepped up in Europe. Alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the “timely announcement to invest in up to 1,000 new Patriot air defence missiles to bolster the alliance’s security”.

“Russian missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian civilians, cities and towns show how important modern air defences are. Scaling-up ammunition production is key for Ukraine’s security and for ours,” Stoltenberg said in a statement.

Kyiv, Moscow swap POWs in first deal in months

Nato allies including the United States and Germany have sent US-made Patriot systems to Ukraine where they have been used to shoot down attacks by Russia’s hypersonic missiles. But the deliveries of the missiles to Kyiv have sapped Western stocks and forced Washington to turn to allies such as Japan to help replenish inventories.

“Europe will produce 1,000 Patriot air defence missiles itself. This shows that European cooperation ensures concrete successes,” Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren wrote on social media.

Patriot missiles are estimated to cost around $4 million each and Nato said the deal also includes other elements including test equipment and spare parts for future maintenance.

Soldiers released

Russia and Ukraine said on Wednesday that they had exchanged hundreds of captive soldiers, the first such prisoner-of-war exchange in months.

The two warring sides had carried out several rounds of exchanges during Moscow’s 22-month-long invasion, but the process had stalled in the latter half of last year.

In almost simultaneous statements, the Russian defence ministry and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced they had received over 200 soldiers each.

“More than 200 of our soldiers and civilians have been returned from Russian captivity,” Zelensky said on Telegram, posting a video of uniformed men celebrating.

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said 230 Ukrainian soldiers had been released in total, marking what he said was the 49th exchange between the two sides. Moscow’s defence ministry said 248 of its soldiers had been returned in a deal that came about after “complex” negotiations mediated by the United Arab Emirates.

Meanwhile, Russian strikes near the southern and eastern Ukrainian frontline on Wednesday killed three and wounded one, local officials said.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2024

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