In a significant development, President Joe Biden is on the verge of making a momentous decision regarding the provision of long-range missiles to Ukraine. This move could potentially open a new chapter in the military support offered by the United States to Ukraine, more than a year and a half after Russia’s full-scale invasion of the country.
Over the course of the conflict, Ukraine has repeatedly requested the supply of ATACMS (Advanced Tactical Missile Systems) from the US. This tactical ballistic missile boasts a range of up to 300km. However, due to concerns about limited stocks and the possibility of escalating the conflict by striking Russian territory, the US has refrained from fulfilling this request thus far.
Nevertheless, as the war persists and Ukraine strives to regain control of the southern and eastern regions of the country, the US has been reconsidering its position. The United Kingdom and France have already dispatched their own long-range missiles to Ukraine earlier this year.
Jon Finer, the deputy national security adviser, emphasized that the US is not ruling out any options: “We’re not taking anything off the table,” he informed reporters. Furthermore, he affirmed that the US will provide the necessary capabilities to enable Ukraine’s success on the battlefield.
Following these statements, a senior Biden administration official mentioned that a decision regarding the provision of ATACMS could potentially be announced soon. Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s president, expressed confidence that the US would agree to send these missiles, highlighting that the matter has been a topic of discussion with US national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
The recent visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Kyiv further underscored the significance of the discussion surrounding ATACMS. During a joint press conference with Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, they engaged in substantive discussions regarding the provision of these missiles. Kuleba expressed his satisfaction that the option was still being considered.
President Biden has been under increased pressure from both sides of the political spectrum in Congress to approve the transfer of long-range missiles to Ukraine. Advocates of this move argue that Ukraine needs advanced weaponry to capitalize on the gains made during its counteroffensive against Russian aggression.
If the decision to supply Ukraine with ATACMS is ultimately made, it would align with the pattern of US military support for Kyiv. The US has prioritized its own assessment of Ukraine’s military needs at different stages of the conflict. For instance, the US has already approved the transfer of Abrams tanks, initiated the training of Ukrainian F-16 jet pilots, and controversially sent cluster munitions to bolster Ukraine’s artillery capacity.
Ukraine has been utilizing British and French long-range missiles, as well as US shorter-range Himars guided missiles, during its summer counteroffensive against Russian forces. However, the advantage of ATACMS is that they can be fired from Himars launchers, as opposed to Ukraine’s outdated Soviet-era fighter jets, providing a significant boost to its military capabilities.
Overall, the pending decision on sending long-range missiles to Ukraine signals a potentially critical turning point in US military support for the country, presenting a fresh and hopeful outlook for Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is ATACMS?
ATACMS stands for Advanced Tactical Missile Systems. It is a tactical ballistic missile with a range of up to 300km and has been requested by Ukraine for military support in its conflict with Russia.
2. Why has the US been hesitant to provide ATACMS to Ukraine?
The US has been concerned about limited stocks and the possibility of escalating the conflict by using these missiles to strike Russian territory.
3. Which countries have already sent long-range missiles to Ukraine?
The United Kingdom and France have already dispatched their own long-range missiles to Ukraine earlier this year.
4. What other military support has the US provided to Ukraine?
The US has approved the transfer of Abrams tanks, initiated the training of Ukrainian F-16 jet pilots, and controversially sent cluster munitions to bolster Ukraine’s artillery capacity.
5. How will ATACMS benefit Ukraine’s military capabilities?
ATACMS has an advantage over the missiles already used by Ukraine as it can be fired from Himars launchers, unlike Ukraine’s aging Soviet-era fighter jets. This provides a significant boost to Ukraine’s military capabilities.