• The Netherlands' PM said his country could buy Patriots from other countries to give to Ukraine.
  • Mark Rutte said some nations have the air-defense systems but may not want to give them directly.
  • Ukraine desperately needs more air defenses as it runs low on supplies to stop Russian attacks.

One of Ukraine's main European allies said it could buy US-made Patriot air-defense systems from other countries to send on to Ukraine.

Mark Rutte, the prime minister of The Netherlands, one of Ukraine's biggest backers, said at an EU leaders summit on Thursday that his country could offer Ukraine more help to combat Russia's invasion, The Guardian reported.

"We know that many countries are sitting on large piles of Patriot systems, maybe not wanting to deliver it directly," he said, adding: "We can buy it from them, we can deliver it to Ukraine, we have the money available. It's crucial."

Ukraine is searching for more Patriot systems as it runs low on air defenses to stop Russian attacks.

Some of its allies have said they have none to spare, while some other countries have said they are reluctant to give the weapon to a country at war.

Patriot air-defense systems during Polish military training at an airport in Warsaw, Poland, in February 2023. Foto: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Rutte's comments came after remarks made by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who said on Wednesday that Ukraine's allies should help it with air defenses.

"If allies face a choice between meeting NATO capability targets and providing more aid to Ukraine, my message is clear: Send more to Ukraine," he said.

Rutte is the frontrunner to take over from the NATO chief later this year.

The US-made MIM-104 Patriot missile system is a ground-based, mobile surface-to-air missile battery. It can down aircraft, cruise missiles, and short-range and tactical ballistic missiles.

Ukraine has been successful at using the air-defense system to down Russian projectiles, helping to dispel earlier doubts about the Patriot's capabilities.

Ukraine has between three and five Patriots. Neither Ukraine nor its allies share the exact number or exactly where they are deployed.

But Ukraine is running critically low on air defense supplies, giving Russia's missile and drone attacks — which have destroyed energy infrastructure, hit residential buildings, and killed civilians — more chance of success.

Experts have previously warned BI that Ukraine's air defenses running low could allow Russia's air force to fly unthreatened, potentially causing so much damage that it would quickly end the war.

Fire rages after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine  on Jan. 2, 2024.
Fire rages after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine on Jan. 2, 2024.REUTERS/Yevhen Kotenko

Germany announced over the weekend that it would give Ukraine another Patriot system. But Ukraine says its needs are much greater.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier this month that Ukraine needs 25 Patriot systems with between six and eight batteries each to protect the country fully.

Ukraine's foreign minister said they've identified more than 100 Patriot systems that allies could spare, and said Ukraine is focused on trying to get seven as soon as possible.

He said he "struggles to understand" some allies' resistance to giving Ukraine at least one of their Patriot systems.

Ukraine's shortages, which also include ammunition and other weaponry, have been exacerbated by Republicans in the US stalling on billions in further aid over the past six months.

Stoltenberg, the NATO chief, on Wednesday called the US "the ally with the most Patriot batteries" and said it has "global responsibilities."

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