Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on Dec. 22 described the Patriot air defense system that the United States will provide to Ukraine as an “outdated weapon” that Russia will be able to counter.
“The Patriot is quite an outdated system, it doesn’t work as well as our S-300 (surface-to-air) missiles,” Putin told journalists. “We’ll take this into account. It’s just a way to prolong the conflict… They want to supply Patriots. Let them supply them – we’ll crack them (like nuts).”
The Patriot is the most advanced air defense weapon in the U.S. arsenal, and Ukraine has long sought to acquire it.
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken announced $1.85 billion in military aid to Ukraine, which includes Patriot systems, on Dec. 21, shortly before President Volodymyr Zelensky’s meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C.
The visit is Zelensky’s first overseas trip since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24.
Some of the NATO allies previously blocked the transfer of the Patriot system for months, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently said.
U.S. forces will train Ukrainian troops to use and maintain Patriot systems in a third country, most likely Germany, but it is unlikely that the air defense system will be delivered to Ukraine before spring, according to the Washington Post.
Putin also used the word “war” in response to a reporter’s question, according to BBC’s Russian service.
The word “war” as a reference to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is banned in Russia, and citizens can be fined for using it under the law on “discrediting” the military. The Russian authorities have referred to the invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation.”