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Wednesday May 29, 2024

US quietly shipped ATACMS missiles to Ukraine

By Reuters
April 25, 2024
US quietly shipped ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. — Report news agency
US quietly shipped ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. — Report news agency

WASHINGTON: The United States in recent weeks secretly shipped long-range missiles to Ukraine for use in its battle to fight off Russian invaders, and Ukraine has now used them twice, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

The missiles were contained in a $300 million military aid package for Ukraine that U.S. President Joe Biden approved on March 12, said the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official would not say how many of the missiles were sent.

The missiles were used for the first time in the early hours of April 17, launched against a Russian airfield in Crimea that was about 165 km (103 miles) from the Ukrainian front lines, the official said.

The official said Ukraine used the weapon a second time overnight against Russian forces in southeastern Ukraine.

Whether to send the Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) with a range up to 300 km was a subject of debate within the Biden administration for months. Mid-range ATACMS were supplied last September.

The Pentagon initially opposed the long-range missile deployment, fearing the loss of the missiles from the American stockpile would hurt U.S. military readiness. There were also concerns that Ukraine would use them to attack targets deep inside Russia. Biden met with his national security team in mid-February and agreed to accept the unanimous recommendation of his advisers to send the missiles to Ukraine.