Ukrainian Air Force Command spokesperson Yurii Ihnat briefs the press in Kyiv in 2022.

Ukraine warns it cannot defend against Iranian ballistic missiles

Ukrainian Air Force Command spokesperson Yurii Ihnat briefs the press in Kyiv in 2022. (Evgen Kotenko/Ukrinform/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

Should Russia obtain Iranian ballistic missiles for use in its war in Ukraine, the Ukrainian Air Force has warned that it does not have the means to defend against them.

“Russia is still willing to receive UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles from Iran. Those are ballistic missiles. We do not have means to defeat them,” Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for the Air Force Command, said Monday on Ukrainian television.

As of November, Iran was preparing to send about 1,000 more weapons, including surface-to-surface short-range ballistic missiles and more attack drones, to Russia to use in its war against Ukraine, officials from a western country that closely monitors Iran’s weapons program told CNN at the time.

Reuters, in October, cited two Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats in reporting that Tehran had promised to provide Russia with those weapons. “The Russians had asked for more drones and those Iranian ballistic missiles with improved accuracy, particularly the Fateh and Zolfaghar missiles family,” one of the Iranian diplomats, who was briefed about the trip, told Reuters.

The Iranian government acknowledged in November that it had sent a limited number of drones to Russia in the months before the start of its invasion of Ukraine, but has denied supplying military equipment for use in the war in Ukraine.

“Russia has Kinzhal-type missiles that strike at ballistic trajectory,” Ihnat said on Monday. “They have Kh-22 missiles that strike at ballistic trajectory, and they have S-300 and S-400 rockets that strike at ballistic trajectory. Those are challenges and threats we are facing at the moment.”

Ihnat said that in order to “defeat ballistic threats,” Ukraine needed air defense systems like the latest-generation American Patriot PAC-3, and the French-made SAMP/T (Sol-Air Moyenne Portée/Terrestre)

The US has not announced details about the Patriot Air Defense System it plans to provide for Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers were set earlier this month to begin training on the Patriot missile system.

Previous reporting from Kylie Atwood, Ellie Kaufman, Oren Liebermann, and Haley Britzky in Washington, and Celine Alkhaldi in Abu Dhabi.

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