Pentagon reveals Ukraine’s targets for ATACMS

    US-supplied Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS, allow Ukrainian forces target Russians in Crimean peninsula “more effectively”, the New York Times has reported, citing senior Pentagon officials.

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    Washington secretly sent Kiev an unspecified number of longer-range ATACMS last month, US officials confirmed earlier this week, after several outlets claimed that Kiev has already begun using the weapon against Russian targets far behind the frontlines.

    The “goal” of supplying Ukraine with longer-range missiles was to put more pressure on Crimea, “where, right now, Russia has had relatively safe haven,” the NYT wrote on Thursday, citing an unnamed US defense official.

    The US delivered the ATACMS missiles, believed to have a range of up to 300 kilometers, to Ukraine as part of a $300-million arms package approved by President Joe Bidenin mid-March. On Wednesday, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed the delivery, but US officials have refused to comment on the exact modification and range of the weapon.

    On the morning of April 17, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said his forces had attacked an airbase in Dzhankoy, Crimea, after media reports alleged that Kiev used the missiles for the first time in the attack on the airfield about 165 kilometers (103 miles) from the frontline. The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the claim.

    Ukraine first received mid-range ATACMS last September. The Russian military quickly began shooting them down, however, thwarting Zelenskyi’s plan to damage or destroy the Crimean Bridge. Earlier this month, Zelenskyi reiterated that he and his government “really want to destroy Russian infrastructure,” including the Crimean Bridge.

    “I think the time is right, and the boss [Biden] made the decision the time is right to provide these based on where the fight is right now,” vice-chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, Adm Christopher Grady, told AP on Wednesday. “I think it was a very well considered decision, and we really wrung it out.”

    The delivery of long-range missiles to Kiev is “impossible to justify,” Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov said on Thursday.


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