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Ukraine war latest: Kyiv to get priority on air defense missiles from US, new Patriot from Romania

by The Kyiv Independent news desk June 20, 2024 8:59 PM 6 min read
A soldier f the launcher of a Patriot air defense system during the air defense exercise "Resilient Guard 2020" on Oct. 14, 2020, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. (Thomas Frey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Key developments on June 20:

  • White House confirms Ukraine to get priority on air defense missile deliveries
  • Romania to send Patriot defense system to Ukraine
  • Single Ukrainian Magura drone hit 4 Russian patrol boats at once, Kyiv claims
  • Russian attacks on Donetsk Oblast kill 4, injure 4, including child
  • Fire at oil depots in 2 Russian regions after overnight drone attacks

The U.S. is to prioritize deliveries of air defense missiles to Ukraine over orders from other countries, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on June 20.

"The United States government has made the difficult but necessary decision to reprioritize near-term planned deliveries of foreign military sales to other countries, particularly Patriot and NASAMS missiles, to go to Ukraine instead," he said in comments reported by AFP.

Comments from U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month strongly suggested such a move was on the table.

"We let it be known to those countries that are expecting from us air defense systems in the future that they're going to have to wait," Biden said after signing a 10-year security deal with President Volodymyr Zelensky at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in Italy on June 13.

In a post on social media on June 20, Zelensky thanked President Biden for the latest decision.

"The partnership between Ukraine and the United States is strong and unwavering. Together, we are protecting life against terror and aggression," he said.

Romania to send Patriot defense system to Ukraine

Romania will transfer a Patriot air defense system to Ukraine, the country's Supreme Council of National Defense announced on June 20.

The move came as Kyiv has been calling on its partners to provide additional air defenses as Russia intensifies its strikes against Ukrainian population centers and infrastructure.

The Council members decided to donate the Patriot system to Kyiv in coordination with partners in view of the "deteriorating security situation" in Ukraine due to Moscow's constant attacks, the statement read.

"(As well as) the regional consequences of this situation, including for Romania's security," the Council said.

Russian drone fragments and debris have been found on Romanian territory on numerous occasions after Moscow's attacks on Ukrainian port infrastructure on the Danube River, prompting Romania to install anti-drone systems, bunkers, and other security measures in the area.

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said that the transfer of the Patriot system to Ukraine must not compromise Romania's air defense.

Bucharest signed a deal in 2017 to obtain Patriot systems but so far only has two that are operational. The second one was put into service on June 14. Iohannis said any discussions would concern a system that was in an advanced stage of becoming operational.

Single Ukrainian Magura drone hit 4 Russian patrol boats at once, Kyiv claims

A single Ukrainian kamikaze naval drone destroyed or damaged four Russian patrol boats in an operation last month, Kyiv's military intelligence (HUR) said on June 20.

Speaking on national television, HUR spokesperson Andrii Yusov said even though Moscow's forces had defenses in place to protect against such attacks, the agency's Magura V5 drones are still able to get around them.

"We've seen in the last few operations where the enemy has planned everything out and did it right, the Magura breaks through these sea fortifications and fire barriers, and then the next drone goes straight to the target.

"As we saw when four Tuna speed boats were hit at once, aviation, artillery, small arms – none of it worked.

"And, in fact, one Magura drone destroyed, damaged, and hit four enemy speedboats. And this is a very good result."

Information on Russian casualties is still being clarified, Yusov told the Kyiv Independent.

The military intelligence agency initially reported only two boats had been hit during the attack in Vuzka Bay on May 30, which lies at the Chornomorske town on Crimea's western coast.

Ukraine previously destroyed several Russian ships with Magura drones, including a landing ship Caesar Kunikov, a Sergei Kotov patrol ship, high-speed Serna and Akula landing crafts, and a Tarantul-class Ivanovets missile corvette.

Newer versions of the Magura V5 are equipped with air-to-air guided missiles.

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Russian attacks on Donetsk Oblast kill 4, injure 4, including child

Russian troops attacked the north of Donetsk Oblast on June 20, killing four people and injuring four others, regional governor Vadym Filashkin said.

Settlements in Donetsk Oblast suffer from daily Russian strikes due to their proximity to the front line. Heavy fighting continues in Donetsk Oblast as Russia seeks to occupy the entire region.

A Russian guided aerial bomb destroyed one house and damaged three more in the town of Kostiantynivka, Filashkin said. One person was killed and one injured, he added.

Russian forces also fired cluster munition at the village of Rozkishne in the Kramatorsk district, killing three people and injuring three, including a child born in 2009, according to Filashkin.

Russian attacks against Ukraine over the past day killed four people and injured 14, regional authorities said.

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Fire at oil depots in 2 Russian regions after overnight drone attacks

Drone attacks caused fires overnight on June 20 at oil depots in Russia's Republic of Adygea and Tambov Oblast, Russian authorities claimed.

According to Russia's Defense Ministry, air defense shot down six drones over the Republic of Adygea in the Caucasus mountains, three over Bryansk Oblast, three over Krasnodar Krai, and one each over Rostov, Belgorod, and Oryol oblasts.

Murat Kumpilov, head of the Republic of Adygea, claimed that the drone attack started a fire at an oil depot in the village of Enyem. The fire covered an area of about 400 square meters and was extinguished at 6 a.m. local time, he added.

An oil tank also caught fire after an explosion on the territory of the Platonovskaya oil depot in Tambov Oblast, according to regional head Maksim Yegorov.

"The incident was allegedly caused by an unmanned aerial vehicle," Yegorov said.

Wreckage of the drone was also reportedly found in the region's Pervomaisky municipal district.

Russian Telegram channels shared videos showing burning oil depots and rising smoke. No casualties were reported.

The Kyiv Independent could not verify these claims. The Ukrainian military has yet to comment on the attacks.

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