Timofey Letov
14 December 2022 19: 00
Headings: World News Society Policy

How can Patriot air defense systems change the contours of war and what geopolitical consequences will this lead to?

Deliveries of the American air defense system are still under discussion, but some conclusions can already be drawn.

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How can Patriot air defense systems change the contours of war and what geopolitical consequences will this lead to?

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A wave of information swept through the Western media that U.S. hands over state-of-the-art Patriot anti-aircraft missile system to Ukraine. This immediately provoked polar reactions in Moscow and Kyiv, but officials in Washington comment very carefully. We studied how Patriot air defense systems can change the contours of war, as well as what geopolitical consequences the likely appearance of these complexes in Ukraine will lead to.

For the first time, a message about the possibility of transferring Patriot complexes to Ukraine appeared in the AP agency, and then this story was described in more detail in The New York Times. It cites two unnamed U.S. officials as talking about a "nearly agreed-upon plan" by the Washington leadership to hand over the system to Ukraine. And, in their own words, it remains to wait only for formal approvals from the head of the Pentagon and the President of the United States.

As you can see, the information is initially presented in a very dosed manner. It seems that the Americans waiting for Russia's reaction. For example, when less powerful American-Norwegian NASAMS complexes were transferred to Ukraine, officials first announced this, and then the world media spread the information. Here, everything happens in the form of a kind of "leak". And there are very understandable geopolitical reasons for this.

Patriot is one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world. It is clear that the complex is not without flaws, and in a war of such intensity, it has never been used before. There were stories of using Yemeni Houthi attack complexes on oil depots in Saudi Arabia, which just covered the Patriot, but did not show themselves in any way. However, that attack was carried out by primitive drones, and the Patriot is imprisoned to work on aircraft and ballistic missiles. It is in this capacity that he is consideredone of the best complexes in the world.

The appearance of this complex in Ukraine is, by definition, Russia's big challenge. But not only in terms of complicating the conduct of missile attacks. Much more important here is another point. Patriot complexes are an extremely difficult technical system to master. S-300 operators cannot simply switch to Patriot without training, which even for technically trained specialists is about a year and a half. That is, according to linear logic, these complexes should not appear in Ukraine before 2025 at all.

But this war has logic definitely not linear. The Ukrainian military, according to the version voiced in the United States, mastered the same effective HIMARS missile systems in a few weeks. If you don’t believe in this legend, you can come to the conclusion that HIMARS are controlled by NATO operators. But here the principle “not caught is not a thief” still applies. The crews of the MLRS are relatively small and in terms of the complexity of control, these installations cannot be compared with the air defense system.

The anti-aircraft missile system is a completely different scale. One Patriot battery consists of a control room, a radar station, and up to eight launchers. According to the state, 90 people are required to serve them, most of whom must have engineering and technical specialties and fluent English. Therefore, the appearance of Patriot complexes in Ukraine in the coming months will mean only one thing - they are managed by specialists from NATO countries.

The Americans, of course, also understand this nuance, and therefore they are already preparing a new legend. Yes, former US General Mark Hertling (again, we note that the former - and this again removes responsibility from official sources) writes on his Twitter: “The Pentagon will soon confirm the dispatch of Patriot air defense systems to Ukraine. If covert training has not been conducted for several months, "approval" does not mean that the complexes will immediately appear on the battlefield..

That is, there is a smoothing of the situation immediately in several directions. Firstly, the legend about the "hidden training" of Ukrainian specialists is being formed. If the complexes appear in Ukraine as soon as possible, then, according to the Americans, the Ukrainian military has already been trained. Secondly, the story is softening for the Russians, saying that the complexes will not appear tomorrow. Thirdly, there is already information in the media that only one battery will be supplied, thus showing that this does not seem to be much, and therefore the Kremlin should not worry much.

But still, the situation for Russia is extraordinary. "USA provoke us into direct conflict with NATO. Especially if they put the Patriot air defense system. ”, - said today First Deputy Head of the International Committee of the Federation Council Vladimir Dzhabarov. Earlier, in the same spirit, only more expressively, he spoke about the "red lines" Dmitry Medvedev.

In any case, the Russian side will have to react somehow. The terms of the peace talks have been repeatedly announced to them at all levels - the complete abandonment of the territory of Ukraine, i.e., first they first offered to capitulate, and then agree on something, so the parameters on this track are generally clear. Therefore, if they choose to continue the war - and so far everything points to this - it should be expected that a strategy will be carried out that weakens the enemy, and not vice versa, strengthens him in the time range. And in this regard, the appearance in Ukraine of the Patriot air defense system - a precedent that plays against the Russian Federation.

The question here is not in one battery, but in the very principle. First, the Americans are psychologically pumping the Kremlin that this is possible. Then a second battery will appear, a third. Then, for more effective air defense, new aircraft will appear over Ukraine. Then the Armed Forces of Ukraine will have more long-range missiles, etc. Americans competently increase the cost of waging war for Russia, but at the same time they are trying not to break it into hysterics, for example, without forcing it to carpet bombing cities or to use tactical nuclear weapons.

How Russia will respond to the possibility of the appearance of the Patriot system in Ukraine is not yet entirely clear. The appearance of HIMARS was overslept there. With new air defense systems for Ukraine, this story may repeat itself, or, on the contrary, an even greater escalation may begin when the Kremlin decides to intensify strikes against the country's critical infrastructure. In any case, we are waiting a new stage of the escalation of the war, and in the USA and in Russia they understand this.

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