Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that if US Patriot missiles are sent to Ukraine, they would be legitimate targets for Russian forces.
But he added that the US plan had not been confirmed.
Peskov was asked by CNN if he held the same view as former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has said that the missiles “would immediately become a legitimate target of our armed forces.”
“Certainly,” Peskov responded, in remarks later picked up by official Russian news agency TASS. But he added, “I would refrain from comment for now, though, because these are just media reports.”
CNN reported exclusively Tuesday that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine, with a decision possibly announced as soon as this week, according to two US officials and a senior administration official.
The Pentagon’s plan still needs to be approved by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin before it is sent to President Joe Biden for his signature. The three officials told CNN that approval is expected.
It is not clear how many missile launchers will be sent, but a typical Patriot battery includes a radar set that detects and tracks targets, computers, power generating equipment, an engagement control station and up to eight launchers, each holding four ready-to-fire missiles.
Once the plans are finalized, the Patriots are expected to ship quickly in the coming days and Ukrainians will be trained to use them at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, officials told CNN.
Russian officials have repeatedly said that all Western systems sent to Ukraine — including the HIMARS anti-air defenses — will be targeted.
Ukrainian authorities have been seeking Patriot batteries for months but have not confirmed that the US has agreed to dispatch them. On Wednesday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said only that a meeting of the military’s General Staff had talked about the “protection of the sky.”
“We are constantly strengthening our air and anti-drone defense. And we are doing everything to get more modern and more powerful systems for Ukraine,” he said.
CNN’s Barbara Starr contributed reporting to this post.
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