President Joe Biden has reportedly conveyed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that the United States intends to supply a limited quantity of long-range missiles to support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. This information was disclosed by three U.S. officials and a congressional official who are familiar with the discussions, although they were not authorized to speak publicly. The timing of the missile delivery and any formal announcement has not been disclosed at this point.
Ukraine has been seeking the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which has the capability to strike targets at distances of up to approximately 180 miles. These missiles could prove invaluable for targeting supply routes, railways, and command and control centers located behind Russian front lines. However, the U.S. does not possess a significant surplus of ATACMS missiles to provide to Ukraine, as they have a larger payload compared to traditional artillery. Additionally, there have been concerns in Washington about the possibility of such missiles escalating the conflict with Russia.
The congressional official indicated that there is still ongoing deliberation regarding the specific type of missiles that will be sent and the quantity that will be delivered to Ukraine. It’s worth noting that some Eastern European countries have already provided substantial portions of their weapons stockpiles to Ukraine.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Biden administration has adjusted its stance on which weapons it is willing to supply to Ukraine’s military. Initially, approval for requests for items such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Howitzer artillery pieces, anti-ship missiles, and HIMARS systems was withheld. However, later on, the green light was given for these weapons to be shipped to Ukraine, reflecting a shift in the U.S. approach to supporting Ukraine’s defense efforts in the conflict with Russia.