A senior US government official has revealed that President Joe Biden is considering sending long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. Although no official decision has been announced, Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer stated that the US is committed to providing Ukraine with the necessary capabilities to succeed on the battlefield.
While this statement does not indicate a shift in the White House’s policy, anonymous officials claim that President Biden is moving closer to approving the delivery of ATACMS missiles. These reports suggest that a decision could be made soon, with one official stating that the missiles are already on their way to Ukraine.
The delivery of major weapons platforms to Ukraine has followed a similar pattern in the past. Initially, American officials deny Ukraine’s requests, citing concerns about escalating the situation. However, anonymous sources later inform US media outlets that the Biden administration is reconsidering its position. This is followed by a wave of news articles suggesting that President Biden is willing to provide the requested weapons. Finally, the president makes a formal announcement several days or weeks later.
Ukraine has been requesting ATACMS missiles since last year. However, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan previously warned that providing these weapons could potentially lead to a “third world war”. Additionally, both the White House and the Pentagon claimed that the US had too few ATACMS missiles in its stockpiles to spare.
However, this concern seems to have been addressed, as two officials have said that the US has discovered it has more ATACMS missiles in its inventory than initially estimated. The fear of escalation has also diminished, with reports suggesting that the White House is aware that Ukraine may use these missiles to target Russian territory in Crimea.
The MGM-140 ATACMS, or Army Tactical Missile System, has a range of up to 300 kilometers (190 miles) and can be fired from the M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS platforms, which have already been sent to Ukraine by the US and UK.
The potential supply of ATACMS missiles to Ukraine comes amid the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia. The conflict in eastern Ukraine, which began in 2014, has intensified in recent months, resulting in a large number of casualties and displacements.
The US has been a strong supporter of Ukraine throughout the conflict, providing military aid and assistance. However, the decision to supply ATACMS missiles would represent a significant escalation in support, given their long-range capabilities.
It remains to be seen when President Biden will make a formal announcement regarding the delivery of ATACMS missiles. However, if the reports are accurate, this move could further exacerbate the already tense situation between Ukraine and Russia.