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What in the World?

Sending Ukraine Patriot missiles could significantly impact war

Dec 16, 2022


Peter Zeihan

Geopolitical Strategist


The U.S. is finalizing plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine to aid in its defense against repeated Russian attacks on the Ukrainian power grid. Russia, in turn, warned of “unpredictable consequences” and even shared a video of an intercontinental ballistic missile being loaded up. Sending Ukraine Patriot missiles is viewed by Moscow as an escalation given the system is often used to guard against more advanced threats. Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan explains what this development means for the trajectory of the war.

Excerpted from Peter’s Dec. 16 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

At the onset of the Ukraine War, the Americans laid out three criteria for providing weapons to the Ukrainians: It must be a weapon system not critical to U.S. defense operations, the technology must be outdated and it must be something that the Ukrainians can operate on their own. But things are changing…

In the West’s eyes, the Russians have escalated this war through their genocidal actions. Resulting in discussions over the use of the Patriot missile defense system. Now, this brings plenty of implications to the table.

Perhaps the most notable is that the Patriot missile requires “advisors” to aid in its operation – meaning boots on the ground. Nothing is set in stone, but this could significantly impact the trajectory of the war.

Hey everyone, Peter Zion here coming to you from balmy New York City in Central Park, where it’s a breezy 29 degrees. Today, I wanted to talk about the possibility of the United States sending Patriot missile systems to the Ukrainians. It’s not a done deal. So I don’t want to overplay this. But if it does happen, it means a few things have changed. Now, the weapons systems that the Western world and the US in particular have been given to the Ukrainians always have to meet one of three total criteria. First, it has to be a weapon system that we don’t really need. And so if you look at everything that we have sent to this point, almost all of it except for maybe some ammo, falls into the category of something that the United States is not used with its regular forces. In fact, most of the stuff started their production runs long before the 1990s, and has been sitting in a warehouse throughout the entirety of the war on terror. So there was mostly stuff that was slated for destruction. So when you see numbers like 40 billion, in terms of the amount of aid that the Americans have given, keep in mind that it would probably cost us more than that to dispose of the equipment. So if anything, the Ukrainians are doing us a favor here. Second, it has to be technology that is old enough, that if it fell into Russian hands, it would not give them or any of their potential friends or allies around the world, a leg up in anything. So again, we’re talking about things that were developed during the 70s in the 80s, and haven’t really seen battlefield use for a while. That’s one of the reasons why the Air Force has been unable to send its older Predator drones, because even though they’re 1520 years old, they still have technologies that we really don’t want the rest of the world to get a peek at. The third big thing, it has to be something that the Ukrainians can operate themselves. The decision was made very early in the war to avoid escalation to make sure that there were not American forces or NATO forces that could be in a position where they would directly confront Russian forces. And the reason is pretty simple. If you have Western forces in Ukraine, you will then have to have Western air cover and Western ground cover. And in that sort of situation, a direct head to head fight with the Russians would obliterate the Russian positions completely, we discovered that that would happen because of the battle Kievan how battle how bad the Russians actually did in real combat. And in that sort of scenario, the Russians would have little choice but to escalate up to and including nukes. So this has kept most of our top tier technologies off the table completely these three conditions that might not any longer apply to the Patriots. Now on the surface, putting a patriot in a position to shoot down say Iranian drone seems kind of silly, it’s $4 million a shot. The Patriots were designed for nearly theater level, air defense designed to shoot down nuclear weapons, for example, you know, things where it really really matters and save sending them after a 15,000 $20,000 shot, he drone seems kind of silly. But a few things are different. Now, first of all, this is an air defense system. So it would never be on the front line, it would be designed to protect certain sites and cities across the Ukrainian space, which means the chances of the technology falling into Russian hands are negligible, they would have to have a pretty severe breakthrough in the front lines for that to even be a risk and they are all mobile. So you could just drive it away if it looked like the city was going to fall. Second, there’s a prestige issue here, not for the Americans for the Russians, because they if they found out there was a patriot defending a site, they would saturate that site with absolutely everything they could to prove that patriots don’t work or even better to potentially destroy one of them. That is something that is actually a feature, not a bug. Because if you’ve got the Russians going after a specific weapons system, then they’re not shooting it cities. So you put it in some place, that is not all that critical. And you use it as a sponge to soak up Russian ammo. So that’s a power plants don’t get taken offline. But the third reason is probably the most politically and strategically significant one. From the western point of view. The reason we don’t put Western people on the ground is to avoid escalation. But from the western point of view, that escalation has already occurred. Over the last few weeks, the Russians have been deliberately and extensively targeting civilian infrastructure throughout Ukraine, knocking out power and water in cities that have over a million people in the middle of winter, which is causing mass casualties and fatalities throughout the entire civilian population. This is the specific goal of the Russian assaults. But this accounts to multiple war crimes on a daily basis conscious war crimes not incidental, not accidental, deliberate. And in that changed political math, all of a sudden, the feeling is that, you know, we’re already seeing a degree of escalation already. So if it takes a few American troops to operate a weapon system, a defensive weapon system that the Ukrainians can’t learn right away, then maybe it’s worth it. This is not something we can just hand Over, Americans train on their newer equipment not for weeks or months, but for years. And there’s no way we can just hand this over to the Ukrainians and expect it to be operated, we will have to have advisors on the ground, several dozen per battery. But the math has changed. And I think the thing that really tipped the Americans over to seriously consider this was the discovery of torture chambers for children in KEARSON, something that serves no purpose whatsoever, except for to specifically and deliberately further a genocide. And that, apparently, is a line that the Russians have crossed, that really matters to the western countries. And so the Patriot could very well be in play very soon. All right. That’s it for me. Until next time,

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