The United States has discreetly supplied Ukraine with long-range ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles, a move that has been shrouded in secrecy until the weapons were deployed on the battlefield against Russian forces. This clandestine operation comes nearly a month after President Joe Biden had assured his Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelensky, of the missile delivery.
The decision to provide these missiles was not taken lightly. For months, the US administration had been hesitant, fearing that the weapons could be used to target Russia’s interior, thereby exacerbating the already tense situation. However, Biden eventually gave the nod for the missile delivery during a White House meeting with Zelensky.
While the exact number of missiles supplied remains undisclosed, it is understood that the US has provided a limited number, possibly around two dozen. The ATACMS is a highly sophisticated weapon system, capable of hitting targets deep within enemy territory. Manufactured by US company Lockheed Martin, these missiles significantly enhance Ukraine’s military capabilities, allowing for more strategic operations against Russian-controlled areas.
Zelensky expressed gratitude towards the United States for fulfilling their agreement. “Special thanks today to the United States. Our agreements with President Biden are being fulfilled”, he said in a daily video statement, as mentioned by Bloomberg. The Ukrainian military has already deployed these missiles in a major offensive against Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country, marking their first use in the seven-year conflict.
However, the US has imposed certain limitations on the ATACMS capability provided to Ukraine, primarily due to concerns over escalating tensions with Russia. The missiles supplied have a shorter range, restricting their operational scope to some extent. This move is seen as a cautious approach by the US to balance its support for Ukraine while avoiding a full-blown confrontation with Russia, as highlighted by CNN.