On May 3, U.S. antivax activist and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed Russia’s war against Ukraine was “provoked” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the American "NeoCons.” In mid-April, Kennedy announced his candidacy for the 2024 U.S. presidential election.
In a Twitter post that received more than 5 million views and hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets during the first 24 hours of publication, Kennedy claimed that the U.S. had deployed Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense in Ukraine. On May 4, Twitter added a “Readers’ context” label to the post, flagging it as inaccurate.
“But pressured by NeoCons in the Biden White House, and by violent fascist elements within the Ukrainian government, Zelensky integrated his army with NATO’s and allowed the U.S. to place nuclear-capable Aegis missile launchers along Ukraine’s 1,200-mile border with Russia.”
That is false.
The United States does not have and never had any of its Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense systems, or Aegis BMD systems, on the territory of Ukraine; they are deployed in Turkey, Germany, Spain, Romania and Poland.
Aegis BMD is an American global missile defense program developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. It is designed to protect against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and is part of both the U.S. national missile defense system and the European NATO missile defense system.
On September 17, 2009, then-President Barack Obama approved the European Phased Adaptive Approach, EPAA, under which the United States would build a new missile defense system based on the Aegis BMD in eastern European NATO countries.
A White House 2009 fact sheet stated: “Starting around 2011, this missile defense architecture will feature deployments of increasingly capable sea- and land-based missile interceptors, primarily upgraded versions of the Standard Missile-3 or SM-3, and a range of sensors in Europe to defend against the growing ballistic missile threat from Iran.”
As part of Obama’s EPAA, four NATO countries deployed elements of Aegis BMD.
Turkey deployed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, radar in Kyurechik after the Turkish government agreed in November 2010 to place this early warning radar system on its territory. The installation was completed by January 2012.
In April 2012, NATO installed and successfully tested the NATO BMD command center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
On May 12, 2016, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency declared operational the Aegis Ashore site in Deveselu, Romania.
Poland is set to host an Aegis Ashore site at the Redzikowo military base in northern Poland by the end of 2023. On March 14, 2023, The First News, a Warsaw-based news outlet, reported that construction of the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System in Redzikowo has been completed and the facility will be operational in 2023.
Spain also hosts four multi-mission BMD-capable Aegis ships at its naval base in Rota after signing an agreement with the U.S. in October 2011 to base American anti-missile warships on its coast as part of the EPAA, “strengthening U.S.-led plans for a NATO-wide missile defense system in Europe.”
In April 2023, American-made Patriot air defense systems, which are not related to Aegis BMD, arrived in Ukraine. The Associated Press reported on April 19 that Patriots will provide Ukraine “with a long-sought new shield against the Russian airstrikes that have devastated cities and civilian infrastructure.”