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European nations with Patriots hesitate to give their missile systems to Ukraine

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European nations with Patriots hesitate to give their missile systems to Ukraine
News

News

European nations with Patriots hesitate to give their missile systems to Ukraine

2024-04-22 18:32 Last Updated At:18:40

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union countries possessing Patriot air defense systems appeared hesitant on Monday to give any to Ukraine, which is desperately seeking at least seven of the missile batteries to help fend off Russian air attacks.

Russia’s air force is vastly more powerful than Ukraine’s, but sophisticated missile systems provided by Kyiv’s Western partners can pose a major threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin’s forces slowly push forward along the roughly 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line in the war.

Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said the Netherlands is “looking at every kind of possibility at the moment” and is offering financial support to a German initiative to help Ukraine bolster its air defenses and to buy more drones.

Asked at a meeting of European Union foreign and defense ministers why the Netherlands is reluctant to send some of its Patriot systems, Slot said: “We are looking again if we can deplete our store of what we still have, but that will be difficult.”

Last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the military organization “has mapped out existing capabilities across the alliance and there are systems that can be made available to Ukraine.” He did not name the countries that possess Patriots.

The Patriot is a guided missile system that can target aircraft, cruise missiles and shorter-range ballistic missiles. Each battery consists of a truck-mounted launching system with eight launchers that can hold up to four missile interceptors each, a ground radar, a control station and a generator.

A key advantage of the U.S.-made systems, apart from their effectiveness, is that Ukrainian troops are already trained to use them.

But Patriots take a long time to make — as long as two years, some estimates suggest — so countries are reluctant to give them up and leave themselves exposed. Germany had 12, but it is supplying three to Ukraine. Poland, which borders Ukraine, has two and needs them for its own defenses.

Asked whether his country would provide any, Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson said: “I don’t exclude that possibility, but right now we’re focused on financial contributions.” He said Sweden would send other systems that could “relieve some of the pressure” on the need for Patriots.

Jonson also noted that more U.S. deliveries of air defense systems might come, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a package over the weekend of $61 billion in support, including $13.8 billion for Ukraine to buy weapons.

Questioned about whether Spain might step up with Patriots, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares said that his country “will make its decisions based on the power it has in its hands to support Ukraine.”

“I don’t think we’re helping anyone if we hear all the time what it is that’s being given, when it’s being given and how it’s getting in,” he told reporters at the meeting in Luxembourg.

NATO keeps track of the stocks of weapons held by its 32 member countries to ensure that they are able to execute the organization’s defense plans in times of need.

But Stoltenberg said on Friday that if dropping below the guidelines is “the only way NATO allies are able to provide Ukraine with the weapons they need to defend themself, well that’s a risk we have to take.”

Beyond providing new Patriot batteries, Stoltenberg said that it’s also important for countries to ensure that the batteries they do send are well maintained, have spare parts and plenty of interceptor missiles.

In a separate development at Monday's meeting, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis expressed concern about possible Russian sabotage against facilities in Europe being used to train Ukrainian troops.

Two German-Russian men were arrested in Germany last week on suspicion of espionage, one of them accused of agreeing to carry out attacks on potential targets including U.S. military facilities, prosecutors said.

“We are witnessing very similar events in our region, not just in Lithuania but also in Latvia and Estonia as well,” Landsbergis told reporters.

“There seems to be a coordinated action against the European countries that is coming from Russia,” he said. “We have to find a way to deal with the threat … because Russia is fighting not just against Ukraine but the West as well.”

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Russian rockets are launched against Ukraine from Russia's Belgorod region, seen from Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Russian rockets are launched against Ukraine from Russia's Belgorod region, seen from Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

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Storms spin up tornadoes in Iowa that cause injuries, topple wind turbines

2024-05-22 08:22 Last Updated At:08:30

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — Powerful storms that rolled through the Midwest spun up multiple tornadoes, including a fierce twister that smashed through a small Iowa town Tuesday, carving a bleak landscape of destroyed homes and businesses, toppled trees, smashed cars and widely strewn debris and causing an unknown number of injuries.

Iowa State Patrol spokesman Sgt. Alex Dinkla said multiple people were injured in Greenfield, a town of about 2,000 around 55 miles (88.5 kilometers) southwest of Des Moines, and there was a lot of damage in town. He didn’t know the extent of the injuries.

In the aftermath of the storm, parts of Greenfield appeared devastated. Mounds of broken wood, branches, car parts and other debris littered lots where homes once stood. Cars lay busted and bent while damaged houses sat skewed against the gray and overcast sky. Trees stood — barely — bereft of branches or leaves.

Multiple tornadoes were reported throughout the state, and one also apparently took down several 250-foot (76 meters) wind turbines. Des Moines, Iowa, television station KCCI-TV showed at least three wind turbines that were toppled by an apparent tornado in southwest Iowa, and at least one was in flames with black smoke pluming from the bent structure.

Wind farms are built to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes and other powerful winds. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turbines are designed to shut off when winds exceed certain thresholds, typically around 55 mph (88.5 kph). They also lock and feather their blades, and turn into the wind, to minimize the strain.

The Adair County Health System hospital in Greenfield was damaged in the storm, but Mercy One spokesman Todd Mizener said he had no further details. The hospital is affiliated with Mercy One, and officials were on their way to Greenfield to assess the damage.

The town bills itself as “the friendly wave as you walk” type of place with tree-lined streets — before the storm — and “the crack of the fireworks or twinkle of the lights” on special holidays. Also touting itself as the “perfect place to grow,” Greenfield prides itself on being a town where business owners know your name and neighbors help neighbors, according to its visitors page.

Mary Long, the owner of Long’s Market in downtown Greenfield, said she rode out the storm at her business in the community’s historic town square, which largely escaped damage. Long said there appeared to be widespread damage on the east and south sides of town.

“I could hear this roaring, like the proverbial freight train, and then it was just done,” she said.

Camille Blair said the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce office where she works closed around 2 p.m. ahead of the storm. She emerged from her home to describe widespread damage and scattered debris.

“There’s a pretty significant roof damage to several houses that I know will need whole new roofs," she said. "And I can see from my house it kind of went in a straight line down the road.”

In far southwestern Iowa, video posted to social media showed a tornado just northwest of Red Oak. Further east and north, the National Weather Service issued multiple tornado warnings for areas near the towns of Griswold, Corning, Fontanelle and Guthrie Center, among others.

Iowa was already braced for severe weather after the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center gave most of the state a high chance of seeing severe thunderstorms with the potential for strong tornadoes. Des Moines public schools ended classes two hours early and canceled all evening activities ahead of the storms.

Earlier in the day, residents to the west in Omaha, Nebraska, awoke to weather sirens blaring and widespread power outages as torrential rain, high winds and large hail pummeled the area. The deluge of more than 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of rain in less than two hours flooded basements and submerged cars. Television station KETV showed firefighters arriving to rescue people from vehicles.

In Illinois, dust storms forced authorities to shut down stretches of two interstates due to low visibility. Winds gusts of between 35 mph (56 kph) and 45 mph (74 kph) hit the McLean area, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Schaffer.

“There is no visibility at times,” state police posted on the social media platform X.

The storms followed days of extreme weather that have ravaged much of the middle section of the country. Strong winds, large hail and tornadoes swept parts of Oklahoma and Kansas late Sunday, damaging homes and injuring two in Oklahoma.

Another round of storms Monday night raked Colorado and western Nebraska and saw the city of Yuma, Colorado, blanketed in hail the size of baseballs and golf balls, turning streets into rivers of water and ice. Front-end loaders were used to move half-foot deep (1.83 meters deep) hail Tuesday.

Last week, deadly storms hit the Houston area in Texas, killing at least eight people. Those storms Thursday knocked out power to hundreds of thousands for days, leaving those Texans in the dark and without air conditioning during hot and humid weather. The total of deaths was raised Tuesday from seven to include a man who died from carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator after his power went out. Hurricane-force winds reduced businesses and other structures to debris and shattered glass in downtown skyscrapers.

Tuesday's storms were expected to bring much of the same high winds, heavy rain and large hail to Minnesota and part of northern Missouri, said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service.

He said the system is expected to turn south on Wednesday, bringing more severe weather to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri.

—-

McFetridge reported from Des Moines, Iowa, and Beck reported from Omaha, Nebraska. Associated Press writers Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis, Josh Funk in Omaha, Colleen Slevin in Denver and Juan Lozano in Houston contributed to this report.

This image provided by JJ Unger, shows hail damage to the window of vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

This image provided by JJ Unger, shows hail damage to the window of vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

This image taken from video provided by JJ Unger, shows hail damage to a window of vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

This image taken from video provided by JJ Unger, shows hail damage to a window of vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

This image provided by JJ Unger, shows hail surrounding a vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

This image provided by JJ Unger, shows hail surrounding a vehicle, Monday night, May 20, 2024, in Yuma, Colo. Residents in the small city in northeastern Colorado were cleaning up Tuesday after hail the size of baseballs and golf balls pounded the community, with heavy construction equipment and snow shovels being used to clear hail that had piled up knee-deep the night before. (JJ Unger via AP)

Workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. The city closed off streets in a six-block exclusion zone downtown, from McKinney to Polk and from Smith to Travis to ease traffic around the area where broken glass and debris are prevalent. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Workers clean out shattered glass at the Wells Fargo building as clean up from the previous week's storm continues in downtown Houston, Monday, May 20, 2024. The city closed off streets in a six-block exclusion zone downtown, from McKinney to Polk and from Smith to Travis to ease traffic around the area where broken glass and debris are prevalent. (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP)

A police officer and an employee of nearby Dingman's Collision Center push a car that had been caught in flood waters in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

A police officer and an employee of nearby Dingman's Collision Center push a car that had been caught in flood waters in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

An early-morning storm knock tree branches onto the Pacific Street sign on 42nd Street in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

An early-morning storm knock tree branches onto the Pacific Street sign on 42nd Street in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Heavy machinery clears debris washed out by flooding from nearby construction sites in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Heavy machinery clears debris washed out by flooding from nearby construction sites in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Water pours out of a parking lot onto the ground in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

Water pours out of a parking lot onto the ground in Omaha, Neb. on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. (Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP)

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