Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

The Biden administration is finalizing plans to send the Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine that could be 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 being sent to US President Joe Biden for his signature. All three officials told CNN that approval was expected.

Why this matters: Ukraine has asked the United States to send the advanced long-range air defense system that is highly effective at intercepting ballistic and cruise missiles as it comes under a barrage of Russian missile and drone attacks that have destroyed key infrastructure in the whole country It would be the most effective long-range defensive weapons system sent to the country and officials say it will help secure airspace for NATO nations in eastern Europe.

It’s unclear how many missile launchers will be fielded, but a typical Patriot battery includes a radar array that detects and tracks targets, computers, power generation equipment, an engagement control station, and up to eight launchers, each with four missiles ready to fire.

Once the plans are finalized, the Patriots are expected to be shipped quickly in the coming days and the Ukrainians will be trained to use them at a US Army base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, the officials said.

Ukraine has been asking for the system for months, but the logistical challenges of delivering and operating it are immense. Despite those obstacles, “the reality of what’s happening on the ground” led the administration to make the decision, the senior administration official told CNN, noting the continued heavy Russian missile barrage.

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