Biden vows to support Ukraine ‘as long as it takes’

TEHRAN, Dec. 22 (MNA) – US President Joe Biden pledges to further step up military support, including a new missile system, for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

"We're going to continue to strengthen Ukraine's ability to defend itself, particularly air defense," Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky during a press conference that followed their meeting at the Oval Office.

"Ukraine's fight is part of something much bigger," Biden noted. 

Zelensky called vows of long-term US military support including a new missile system a "crucial step".

The Ukrainian president's trip to the US was his first known first foreign visit since the start of the Ukraine war on February 24.

Biden said the US and Ukraine would continue to project a "united defense" against Russia as the war drags on.

As Zelensky arrived, the United States announced another $1.85 billion from previously budgeted funds for Ukraine, including for the first time the advanced Patriot air system, which is capable of shooting down cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles.

The US administration doesn’t think that the transfer of Patriot air defense systems to Kyiv would lead to escalation of the conflict, Biden said.

"It's a defensive system. It's a defensive weapon system. It's not escalatory, it is defensive," he said when asked whether the supplies of these weapons could lead to further escalation.

"I did not discuss that at all with the president," he added.

When Zelensky said that Kyiv wants more Patriots, Biden said laughingly, "We're working on this."

The Patriot is a surface-to-air missile system that has been used in the United States since the 1980s. The Patriot systems manufacture by the Raytheon corporation, are capable of hitting planes, drones, cruise missiles, and shorter-and intermediate-range missiles. One battery consists of from five to eight mobile units. The platform can hold launch containers for 4 or 16 missiles depending on the modification.

According to the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Patriot battery will be the most expensive weapon supplied by the United States to Ukraine. Each system costs around $1.1 billion. One missile of the latest modification is priced at $4.1 million.

According to Biden, the new package of military assistance to Ukraine "will include a Patriot missile battery, which will train Ukrainian forces to operate as part of the ongoing effort to help bolster Ukraine's air defense."

"It's gonna take some time to complete the necessary training, but the Patriot battery will be another critical asset for Ukraine," he said.

"Altogether, today's new security assistance with humanitarian funding amounts to $2.2 billion in additional support for the Ukrainian people," he added.


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