Zelensky thanks US for advanced air defense systems, calls for more help

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CORRECTION: Ukraine has not yet received the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS). A previous version of this story contained incorrect information on the delivery of the system due to errors in the CBS transcript of its interview with Zelensky. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is thanking the United States for the advanced air defense systems it has sent to his country to aid in its war with Russia, but he also is pressing for more, according to an interview aired Sunday.

Zelensky on CBS’s “Face the Nation” thanked Washington for the shipments of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and other multiple launch rocket systems “that give us an ability to conduct our offensive.”

He added that his troops “absolutely need the United States to show leadership and give Ukraine the air defense systems” it continues to ask for.

Kyiv is still waiting on National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS), a weapon Kyiv has long requested and was recently promised by Washington.

The Biden administration approved the shipment of six NASAMSs late last month as part of a nearly $3 billion lethal aid package to bolster Kyiv as it battles the Kremlin invasion.

“Believe me, it’s not even nearly enough to cover the civilian infrastructure, schools, hospitals, universities, homes of Ukrainians,” Zelensky said, according to a full transcript of the interview.

NASAMS, a medium-range air defense system, is a Norwegian and U.S.- designed weapon meant to identify and take out aircraft, cruise missiles and drones. The systems, which are used to protect the airspace around the White House – are typically used to protect major assets or civilian populations.

“These are proven systems that will make a real difference in the battlefield,” Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante said Aug. 31 in announcing the NASAMS shipments.

The NASAMS delivery – which the Pentagon has said is still about two months away – is expected to help Ukraine maintain major gains in a counteroffensive begun earlier this month. Kyiv has managed to take back huge swaths of territory in the northeastern Kharkiv region and in the south.

But Zelensky called for even more weapons, including tanks, artillery and more air defense systems, as well as financial assistance to keep the pace of his military going with winter fast approaching.

This story was updated at 11:55 a.m.

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