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Pentagon chief pushes for more Patriot systems to Ukraine

WASHINGTON: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that he has asked countries with Patriot missile systems to donate them to Ukraine, which has requested more air defense batteries.

Austin told a House Armed Services Committee hearing that there are countries that have patriots, so the U.S. continues to work with them.

Without naming the countries, the minister said he had spoken to the leaders of several countries over the past two weeks and encouraged them to provide Ukraine with more capacity.

Several European Union countries have the systems, including Spain, Greece, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told NATO members earlier this month that Kiev needed at least seven additional Patriot or other high-end air defense systems to counter Russian air strikes and asked them to increase their military aid to Ukraine.

Earlier, the head of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, said it was not too late for Ukraine to win the war against Russia, adding that Kiev needs more weapons.