The White House said Tuesday that the US is speeding up the shipment of an air defense system to Ukraine after Russia launched a major barrage of missile strikes on infrastructure across the country.
The US has pledged to give Ukraine eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), but so far, none have been delivered. The NASAMS are being provided through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows the US government to purchase military equipment for Ukraine, but the process takes longer than sending arms directly from Pentagon stockpiles.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that two NASAMS should get to Ukraine soon. “We think that we’re on track to get those first two over there in the very near future,” he said. “We are certainly interested in expediting the delivery of NASAMS to Ukraine as soon as we can.”
President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday and promised that the US would be sending over advanced air defense systems. The US uses NASAMS to protect the airspace over the White House and the Pentagon.
NASAMS is a joint project between the Norway-based Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace and Raytheon, the former employer of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Before taking his post at the Pentagon, Austin served as a board member for Raytheon, which has benefited greatly from the US policy of arming Ukraine.
The Kremlin said Tuesday that by sending air defense systems, the US would prolong the conflict and inflict more pain on Ukraine.