Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

Biden administration is leaning toward supplying Ukraine with long-range missiles

By 37ci3 Feb19,2024

MUNICH – After months of demands from Ukrainian officials, the Biden administration is trying to deliver Ukraine with powerful new long-range ballistic missiles, according to two US officials.

Late last year, the U.S. began supplying Ukraine with Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS, but so far has provided only the older medium-range ATACMS. The U.S. is now leaning toward sending a longer-range version of the missile, which would allow Ukraine to strike more inside the Russian-controlled Crimean peninsula, officials said.

But US funding for arms to Ukraine remains uncertain due to opposition from former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress. Last week, the Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. But it’s unclear if or when the GOP-controlled House will vote on the measure, or if it will survive a vote.

For months, pro-Trump Republicans have said they will approve US military aid to Ukraine only if the Biden administration agrees to a package of GOP immigration and border security measures. Trump and his allies in the House and Senate rejected a bipartisan border security and immigration compromise negotiated by Republicans and Democrats in the Senate this month.

Defense officials told NBC News that the U.S. has a limited inventory of ATACMS and that the U.S. is unlikely to send them to Ukraine without money to increase its stockpile.

If Congress approves more funding for Ukraine, the US could include the long-term ATACMS in one of the first packages. military aid was paid for with this money, according to two US officials. If funding is approved, the U.S. has ammunition and artillery ready to ship to Ukraine immediately, the officials added.

Soldier of the Ukrainian Front
A Ukrainian soldier prepares for battle on February 11 near Avdiivka, Donetsk region.Genya Savilov / AFP – Getty Images

Officials have not ruled out asking the allies to supply Ukraine with missiles and increase ATACM stocks.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The spokesman of the Ministry of Defense said in a statement: “Without addition [funding bill], we currently do not have a security aid package to give to Ukraine. At the same time, I will not speculate about the contents of future packages if the supplement is accepted. We’ll let you know if that changes and if there’s a new package to announce.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said he spent much of his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Munich on Saturday discussing Ukraine’s need for longer-range weapons.

“I just got here from a meeting with Secretary Blinken,” Kuleba told a small group of reporters in Munich on Saturday. “I spent most of my time arguing in favor of ATACMS,” he said, explaining that Ukraine needed a version of the missile that could fly more than 300 kilometers, or 180 miles.

“There is only one way to destroy Russia’s capabilities in Ukraine. This is to go deep into occupied territories, bypassing Russian electronic warfare and interception devices,” he said, referring to the long-range ATACMS.

Kuleba called the systems “an important symbol” for Ukrainians. “If you want to get behind the lines, disrupt their logistics and supplies, destroy their ammunition depots, you can only do that with long-range missiles,” he said.

The Biden administration has resisted sending long-range missiles for the past two years because officials worried Ukraine could use them to launch strikes inside Crimea or inside Russia, escalating the conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin. White House and Pentagon officials have expressed similar concerns about other weapons systems, but have now decided to give them to Ukraine.

On Saturday, Kuleba also spoke about the urgent need for more weapons in Europe and aid for Ukraine, saying that many people in Europe “still don’t want to understand the danger.”

“When a European citizen reads the news that Ukraine has retreated from Avdiivka, he should understand one simple truth: Russia has come a few kilometers closer to its home,” said Kuleba. “Every advance Russia makes in Ukraine “Russia is bringing its weapons closer to the home of a middle-class European.”

Kuleba appreciated the support of the European allies, but said they should speed up the production of weapons and ammunition for them. Ukraine.

“It took a long time for the Europeans to start strengthening their defense industries, to wake up or dust themselves off,” he said. “We will pay our lives through 2024 to give the defense industry time to ramp up production or new lines.”

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By 37ci3

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