U.S. Responds to Russia Threats Over Patriot Missile Rumors – Following reports that the White House could be considering sending long-range Patriot missile systems to Ukraine, a Kremlin official threatened “unpredictable consequences” for the United States and other allies of Ukraine.
While the comments came ahead of any official statement from the United States government over the rumored plans, a U.S. official responded to the comments during a press briefing on Friday.
State Department Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters on Friday that the United States has not engaged in provocative behavior, and laid the blame for the conflict squarely at Russia’s feet.
“The only provocative measures that have been taken over the course of this entire conflict are being made by Russia,” Patel said.
Patel also played down rhetoric from the Kremlin about the United States allegedly being an active participant in the war.
“The U.S. is not now nor has it ever been at war with Russia,” Patel added.
Patel neither confirmed nor denied rumors that the United States plans to send Patriot systems to Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during a nightly address this week, however, that major announcements are expected next week relating to Ukraine’s air defense systems and additional support from Western allies.
U.S. In “Lockstep” With Ukraine
Speaking to VOA News, the National Security Council’s coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, suggested that Russia cannot prevent the United States from aiding Ukraine in any way.
When asked whether Washington would listen to Russia’s warning about providing more advanced weapons to Ukraine, Kirby said that Russia “will not dictate to the United States or any other country” what security assistance is given to Ukraine.
Kirby added that the White House is in “lockstep” with Ukraine, speaking to Ukrainian officials every day and ensuring that their needs are being met.
Kirby also seemed to lend credibility to reports that the U.S. is preparing to send Patriot missile systems to Ukraine, stressing the importance of providing new air defense systems for Ukraine.
The U.S. official said that Ukraine is facing “unprecedented” airstrikes from Russia, including cruise missile and Iranian drone strikes.
The comments came within hours of news that Russia had launched more than 70 new missile and drone strikes across Ukraine, causing major blackouts across the country and damaging Kyiv’s water supply.
At least three civilians died as a result of Russian airstrikes in major cities on Friday.