WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Ukraine continues to push the United States to provide it with Patriot air defense systems and F-16 fighter jets behind the scenes despite ending public calls for the weapons, Politico reported, citing sources familiar with discussions.
Washington and Kiev are in talks about what weapons the United States could provide to help Ukrainian forces amid Russia’s special military operation, including Patriot systems, F-18 jets and Gray Eagle drones, the report said on Friday, citing Ukrainian government, Pentagon officials and defense industry executives.
Advisors to Ukrainian's Volodymyr Zelensky have led the campaign to tone down Kiev’s calls for the air defense system and fighter jets. The Biden administration encouraged Ukraine to focus more on its immediate needs for their ongoing counteroffensive, the report said.
The relative scarcity of the Patriot surface-to-air missile systems make it challenging to provide them to Ukraine, according to the report. The Pentagon is also concerned about the challenge the F-16’s complex maintenance needs could pose to Ukraine, the report said.
However, US officials continue to discuss whether to deliver Patriots to Ukraine in the longer term, the report said.
Complex systems such as the F-16 jets are likely to be delivered once the conflict is over, the report added, citing a congressional staffer with knowledge of talks.
The Biden administration has given approximately $15.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since taking office, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), ammunition, armored vehicles, drones and other military equipment.