US considers supplying NATO allies with air defense systems

The United States is considering supplying air defense systems to its NATO allies in Eastern Europe amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a US official familiar with the administration’s thinking.

The potential move comes as fears grow that Russia will expand its attacks outside Ukraine and into surrounding NATO territory over their support for Ukraine, the official told CNN on Monday.

“The US is considering a range of capabilities,” the source said.

Monday marked the 12th day of Russia’s invasion of its western neighbor. More than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine as missile attacks and bombings continue to destroy its cities. 

Since the invasion began Feb. 24, Russian forces have launched up to 600 missiles, the US said. 

While Ukrainian troops have strongly held onto key cities such as the capital, Kyiv, some experts fear Russia could soon stray into NATO airspace.

THAAD.The launch of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile.US Missile Defense Agency/AFP via Getty Images

Air Force member stands near a Patriot missile battery.A US service member stands near a Patriot missile battery.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool via AP

If the US moves forward with supplying the air defense systems, the Biden administration will emphasize that Russians still “should have no concerns,” CNN reported. 

The US would likely deploy the Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems to its allies. 

The US has repeatedly vowed not to send any troops into Ukraine and has instead opted to deploy thousands of troops to surrounding NATO countries such as Poland and Romania. 

Protester holds a sign in favor of NATO closing the airspace over Ukraine.Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Western nations to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images

Air Force F-35 Lightning II aircraft.The US stated that a no-fly zone over Ukraine could result in “a potential direct war with Russia.”Senior Airman Joseph Barron/US Air Force via AP

A man stands on the rubble of a house.A man stands in the rubble of a house destroyed by recent shelling.Oleksandr Lapshyn/REUTERS

Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit both countries later this week to meet with their leaders and discuss the ongoing invasion. 

Additionally, the US has provided billions of dollars to Ukraine for humanitarian aid. Last week, the White House asked Congress to approve $10 billion for the growing humanitarian crisis, training the Ukrainian military and reinforcing defenses, protecting the country’s electrical grid, fortifying cyber defenses and enforcing sanctions on Moscow. 

Still, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky believes it is not enough. 

Joe Biden.The US has provided billions of dollars to Ukraine for humanitarian aid.Patrick Semansky/AP

Vladimir Putin.The US has enforced sanctions on Russia following the Ukrainian invasion. Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool via AP

Last week, Zelensky again urged Western nations to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to further deter Russian forces. 

The US has rejected that request, citing the possibility of “a potential direct war with Russia.”

Get the latest updates in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with The Post’s live coverage.

“The no-fly zone requires implementation,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday.

“It would require, essentially, the US military shooting down Russian planes and causing or prompting a potential direct war with Russia — the exact step that we want to avoid.”

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