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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte attends a Special European Council Summit on April 17, 2024, in Brussels, Belgium. (Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte offered on April 17 to buy Patriot air defense systems from more hesitant allies in order to send them to Ukraine, The Guardian reported.

Russia's intensifying aerial attacks on Ukrainian cities continue to highlight the growing shortage of sufficient air defense systems.

"We know that many countries are sitting on large piles of Patriot systems, maybe not wanting to deliver it directly," Rutte said after arriving at the two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

"We can buy it from them, we can deliver it to Ukraine, we have the money available. It's crucial."

Earlier on April 17, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also urged allies to ramp up their efforts in supplying Kyiv with additional air defense systems.

"The reality is that, of course, we have systems available that are big enough to enable us to deliver significantly more to Ukraine when it comes to air defense in general and... that's exactly what we're working on," he added.

Stoltenberg also said there were less than 100 Patriot batteries in Europe but said NATO as a whole has a "significant number," adding: "But that's also reflecting the fact that the United States, which is the ally with the most Patriot batteries, has global responsibilities."

The urgency of air defense supplies was underscored by a Russian missile strike against the city of Chernihiv early on April 17, which killed at least 17 people and injured 60. Earlier strikes over the past weeks dealt heavy damage to Ukraine's energy grid, destroying several thermal power plants.

According to President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine needs 25 Patriots to protect the entire country from Russian attacks, but Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he is for now focused on securing seven to protect Ukraine's largest cities.

Chernihiv strike shows lack of air defense resulting in civilian deaths, Kuleba says
“Three days ago in the Middle East, we saw what reliable protection of human lives from missiles looks like,” Kuleba said.
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