The United States and other NATO countries are discussing how to strengthen Ukraine's air defense capabilities, said the Permanent Representative of the United States to NATO, Julianne Smith, at a briefing before a meeting of NATO defense ministers.
Smith noted that, during Joe Biden’s presidency, the United States has already provided Kyiv with military assistance worth $ 1.2 billion. Over the past few weeks alone, Ukraine has received $550 million in aid, primarily anti-tank weapons.
"We are constantly assessing what additional needs our friends in Kyiv have. We will continue to consider what other forms of air defense we can provide to Ukraine," Julianne Smith said.
She recalled that the U.S. Congress approved a new package of assistance to Ukraine in the amount of $ 13.6 billion, so the situation with the provision of weapons to Kyiv is constantly developing. "Not only the United States, but also NATO allies continue to look for additional ways in which they can meet Ukraine's air defense needs," Smith said.
The United States and other NATO countries have so far provided Ukraine only with portable anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS), in particular the Stinger. However, they are able to hit only helicopters and aircraft flying at low altitudes.
Washington's permanent representative confirmed that neither NATO nor the United States are now considering the option of creating a no-fly zone over Ukraine. "Our common goal is to end this war, to ensure that the Russians withdrew from Ukraine so that Russia would stop both these attacks on the Ukrainian Armed Forces and indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population. We don't want this conflict to expand," Smith said, adding that the idea of a no-fly zone "goes in the wrong direction."
As an example, she cited the attack on the Yavoriv training ground in the Lviv region. The missile strike was carried out from a Russian aircraft that was in the airspace of the Russian Federation. And in such a situation, according to the American diplomat, the no-fly zone "will not have much impact on Russia's ability to carry out attacks on Ukrainian territory."
Julianne Smith also commented on the possibility of supplying Ukraine with Polish MiG-29s. She reiterated the Pentagon's position that "at the moment, this is not the best option," although she did not explain why. At the same time, the representative of the United States stressed that "in the end, this is the decision of Poland." At the same time, she pointed to the unresolved issues of the delivery of these aircraft from Poland to Ukraine, as well as "open questions about pilots, fuel and missiles."