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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ukraine at War: Ukraine desperately needs more air defense systems

Ukraine At War
Graphic by Jaylin Cho

On Wednesday, Russian missiles killed at least 18 people in Chernihiv, a Ukrainian city located 60 miles from the border with Russia. Over 60 people were injured in the aftermath of the attack, which happened in the morning as people were rushing to work and school. The country’s capital, Kyiv, is considered to be relatively safe; despite the frequency of attacks, missiles are often intercepted with the Patriot missile defense system, lowering the number of casualties. Other Ukrainian cities, especially the ones closer to the Russian border like Chernihiv and Kharkiv, are under a higher threat of another tragedy due to the lack of advanced protection equipment.

One of the types of air defense systems required to allow Ukrainians to live safely, at least to some extent, is the Patriot (MIM-104), or the Phased Array Tracking Radar to Intercept on Target. Manufactured in the United States, it is a long-range, all-altitude air protection system that works in any kind of weather, countering “tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.” Recently, Germany announced its decision to give Ukraine one Patriot air defense system. Additionally, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for Europe to strengthen the country’s air defense, considering the intensifying Russian attacks. However, Ukraine needs more than one additional Patriot system. According to experts, 26 Patriots would be needed to protect the country properly — currently, Ukraine has three. Not everyone in the West agrees with the analysis, pointing out that producing Patriot air defense systems takes a while, as the company manufacturing them “is currently able to produce 12 Patriot fire units per year.”

One way to resolve this issue would be to obtain equipment owned by other European countries, yet the challenge lies in their unwillingness to give away any more Patriots to Ukraine. For instance, the Netherlands says that they can’t give more Patriots away for fear of disrupting training cycles and leaving themselves exposed to attack. Although the Netherlands is far from being the only country owning the Patriot systems, the process of getting more air defense is complicated, as it requires both sides to be willing to negotiate. Unfortunately, every day the war continues, the international community’s sympathy and drive to help seem to decrease, especially when it comes to sharing advanced equipment.

The declining motivation in efforts to help Ukraine prevail leads to an increase in the death toll and infrastructure failures in the country. The war has intensified on the frontline, particularly in Chasiv Yar, near Bakhmut, a town that was seized after brutal prolonged fighting last year. Localities farther from the military action are being more frequently bombed as well.

A few days ago, in response to my story about my family being left without electricity and water after a Russian attack, someone replied saying that the world cannot keep up with multiple wars at the same time. I disagree — we must make space to accommodate thoughts and further action about various conflicts. Justifying the lack of awareness about the largest military conflict in Europe since World War II seems irrational, as the outcomes of the war will inevitably have global consequences. Ukraine needs stronger advocacy, including from student bodies across American universities, in terms of voicing the urgent need for more air protection and weapons.