President Joe Biden has reportedly promised Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky that the US will provide his country with a long-range missile system that his armed forces could use to attack targets in Russian-occupied territory or in Russia itself.
The US-built missile system, which is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, can be fired from the M-142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launchers which have been in use by Ukrainian forces for some time. But unlike other missiles, the ATACMS can be used to strike targets as far away as 180 miles, which would allow Ukrainian defence forces to strike command and control and supply locations well behind Russia’s front lines.
Citing four sources, NBC reported that Mr Biden told Mr Zelensky that the US would transfer “a small number” of the longer-range missiles, even though the US does not have a large stockpile of them on hand.
Mr Zelensky and his government have been pressing American officials for the ATACMS system for months, citing the inability of the weapons in their possession to strike targets deep inside Russian-held territory within Ukraine’s borders.
Mr Biden and his aides have resisted provision of the system, which is also used by South Korea, Romania, Greece, Turkey and Poland, citing the potential for their use in attacks on Russian soil.