US Patriot systems in Ukraine would be ‘legitimate target’, warns Russia

New Delhi(International Desk): In a stern warning, Russia on Wednesday said US Patriot missile defense systems would be a legitimate target for its strikes if Washington authorizes them to be delivered to support Kiev.

According to Press TV, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Patriots would “definitely” be a target for Russia, but that he would not comment on media reports that are still not confirmed.

US media on Tuesday reported that the administration of President Joe Biden is finalizing plans to send Patriot missiles to Ukraine that Kiev has been requesting for months.

The plan is in its final stages and needs approval from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before it can be sent to the presidential office for final signature, CNN stated, citing three anonymous US officials.

It is still not clear how many Patriot systems, the most advanced ground-based air defense system, the US intends to supply to Ukraine.

CNN report said the missile batteries will first go to a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, where Ukrainian crews will be trained to operate them, which it said normally takes “several months.”

The Pentagon said last month that Kiev’s request was “being considered” by the Biden administration.

Moscow has strongly opposed the deployment of Patriots and any supporting NATO personnel to Ukraine, with the Deputy Head of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, warning that they would become “legitimate targets” for Russian forces.

Apart from the US, 17 countries operate Patriots or have them on order, including Romania and Poland.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Russia this week to withdraw its troops by Christmas as the first step towards a peace deal.

The Kremlin, however, said it has not received any proposals about a “Christmas ceasefire” in Ukraine.