BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Ukraine needs the U.S. made Patriot missile defence systems to protect its civilian infrastructure, under heavy attack by Russia, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Wednesday, adding he would try to convince Germany to allow their delivery.
Russia has carried out regular missile bombardments on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure since early October, with damage accumulating as temperatures drop. The last big wave on Nov. 23 caused widespread damage.
Kyiv and its allies say it is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians and a war crime. Russia acknowledges attacking Ukrainian infrastructure, but denies deliberately seeking to harm civilians.
Speaking after meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest, Kuleba said he believed the allies’ promises to support his country for as long as necessary, but that the military and aid support needed to come faster.
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Spare parts to repair the energy sector, air defence systems to prevent future attacks and NATO-style tanks were the priority, he said.
“The message is simple: give Patriots as soon as you can because this is the system that Ukraine needs to protect its civilian population and infrastructure,” he said.
Berlin said on Nov. 24 that the Patriot air defence units it offered to Poland are intended for use on NATO territory, countering demands by Warsaw for the system to be sent to Ukraine.
“If Germany is ready to provide Patriots to Poland and Poland is ready to hand them to Ukraine then I think the solution for the German government is obvious,” he said, adding that Kyiv would work with Berlin on the issue.
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned NATO on Tuesday against providing Ukraine with Patriot systems.
“The logic of decision-making when it comes to providing certain types of weapons must be changed,” Kuleba said.
“We need to prevent tragedies not respond to tragedies.”
Kuleba, who said Kyiv would not lay its hands down until its territorial integrity, including Crimea, was restored, also said Ukraine would eventually become a member of NATO despite the alliance making what he called a mistake in 2008 by not bringing it into the fold.
“We will win this war, with the help of allies, and we will become members of NATO but it does not mean that nothing should be happening between now and the moment of us becoming a member of NATO,” he said.
“We believe mistakes made in the past can be fixed in Vilnius in 2023.”
(Reporting by John Irish and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Raissa Kasolowsky)
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