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 of 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 held strong onto key cities such as the capital of Kyiv, some experts fear Russia could soon stray into NATO airspace.
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.
Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to visit both countries later this week to meet with the countries’ 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.
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.”
“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.”