President Biden Approves Supply of Advanced Long-Range Missiles to Ukraine


In a strategic move to bolster Ukraine's ongoing counter-offensive efforts, US President Joe Biden has reportedly greenlit the provision of advanced long-range missiles to Kyiv, according to sources in US media. Officials familiar with the matter indicate that Ukraine is slated to receive ATACMS missiles with an impressive range of up to 190 miles (300km), significantly enhancing Kyiv's capacity to strike deep within Russian-held territory.

Last Friday, one such Ukrainian missile successfully struck the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea. The attack, executed in the port of Sevastopol, utilized Storm Shadow missiles sourced from Britain and France, underscoring the pivotal role of Western weaponry in supporting Ukraine's military endeavors. Notably, Storm Shadow missiles possess a range slightly over 150 miles.

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal cite unnamed US officials, revealing that President Biden conveyed to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, the commitment to provide "a small number" of ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles during their meeting at the White House on Thursday. The WSJ additionally reports that these munitions are slated for dispatch in the coming weeks.

According to insiders cited by the Washington Post, Ukraine is anticipated to receive ATACMS armed with cluster bomblets rather than a single warhead, further enhancing their tactical capabilities. Both the US and Ukraine have yet to officially verify these reports.

Following the Biden-Zelensky discussions, Washington announced a fresh tranche of $325 million (£265 million) in military aid, encompassing artillery and ammunition, to fortify Ukraine's defense. Deliveries of America's Abrams tanks to Kyiv are scheduled for the forthcoming week.

Nevertheless, both leaders have been circumspect in addressing the ATACMS issue. President Zelensky, during a visit to Canada on Friday, expressed optimism about reaching an agreement, emphasizing that the timeline is contingent on various factors beyond Ukraine's control.

Kyiv has persistently advocated for ATACMS to augment its robust and relentless counter-offensive in the southern regions. The objective is to bring key Russian supply lines, command centers, and logistical hubs located deep within the front line within striking range. This strategic shift would compel Moscow to relocate them, impeding the resupply of troops and weaponry.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin's comprehensive invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Biden administration initially exhibited reticence in supplying modern weaponry. However, the stance has since undergone a marked shift, with Kyiv receiving high-precision Himars long-range rocket systems and Patriot air defense missiles.

President Biden, however, has displayed caution in the delivery of ATACMS, amid concerns that such munitions could escalate the potential for a direct conflict with nuclear-armed Russia.