The United States will not start delivering sophisticated NASAMS air defenses to Ukraine for another two months or so, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, disputing reports suggesting Ukraine had already received them.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had been misquoted over the weekend in an English-language television interview transcript suggesting the weapons systems have been delivered.
CBS News’ “Face the Nation” corrected the transcript, acknowledging a translation error, and the Pentagon tried to set the record straight about the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS).
“The US has not delivered NASAMS to Ukraine at this stage. We expect the first two to be delivered within the next two months or so,” Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesperson, told a news briefing.
NASAMS have long been sought by Kyiv.
The United States has approved sending Ukraine a total of eight NASAMS so far, and Ryder said the remaining six would be “longer term” deliveries.
The arms are part of a larger, more than $15 billion commitment of US security assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, according to the US government.
Western-supplied arms have been vital to Kyiv as it recaptured large swathes of northeast Ukraine in a successful counter-offensive earlier this month.
Fighting raged in various parts of Ukraine on Tuesday.
Zelenskyy said the Donetsk region in the east remained his country’s – and Russia’s – top strategic priority, with “particularly severe” fighting engulfing several towns.
Ukrainian forces in the south continued trying to keep bridges and other river crossings out of action to disrupt supply lines to Russian forces. The air force said it had shot down three Iranian-made drones operated by Russia after an attack on the Mykolaiv region.
Ryder said there had been no major shifts on the battlefield.
“We continue to see, particularly in the Donbas region, the Russians attempt to conduct offensive operations in that area, with Ukraine successfully holding the line,” Ryder said.