Russia has responded Wednesday to the prior day report from Pentagon sources that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send Patriot anti-air defense missiles to Ukraine, in what will constitute the longest range defense systems transferred from the West to date.
"The Kremlin said on Wednesday that U.S. Patriot missile defense systems would be a legitimate target for Russian strikes against Ukraine, should the United States authorize them to be delivered to support Kyiv," Reuters reports.
The Russian military has long sought to target both Western arms depots inside Ukraine, as well as inbound shipments traversing the country, which is part of the reason why early on in the invasion it heavily targeted the national rail network.
Deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia Dmitry Medvedev posted the following warning statement directed at the US to his Telegram account (machine translation):
"If, as Stoltenberg hinted, NATO supplies Kyiv fanatics with Patriot complexes along with NATO personnel, they will immediately become a legitimate target of our Armed Forces. I hope the Atlantean impotents understand this."
As for potential delivery of Patriot systems, The Washington Post reports according to the latest, "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."
An initial CNN report said approval could come as early as this week, but it could take a significant amount of time to train the Ukrainians on the sophisticated Patriots' operation. Training would likely occur in Germany and could take months.
The Washington Post notes further that the "Patriot-launched missiles can fly to altitudes as high as 79,000 feet, with an operational range, depending on the type of munition used, from a dozen to 100 miles, for use against ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as aircraft. It was not clear what kind of munitions the Pentagon will propose supplying."
Ukraine now gets US Patriot missiles that cost the US taxpayer $3 million per missile to shoot down $30,000 Russian drones. The Russians can fire 100 drones for each US Patriot missile. The Pentagon strategists call this ‘unbalancing Russia’. pic.twitter.com/33kHrTEYk1— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) December 14, 2022
Range largely depends on the specific missile munition used, and it's possible the Pentagon could limit ranges - as it reportedly did with HIMARS recently shipped to Ukraine, in order to prevent its systems being used by the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia.