Recent media reports suggest that Washington has already decided to supply Kiev with ATACMS missiles
A decision by US President Joe Biden to send long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine “could be coming soon,” a senior government official has told the Financial Times. Other reports suggest that the decision has already been made.
“We’re not taking anything off the table,” Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer told reporters on Sunday. “We don’t have a decision to announce on new capabilities but our position all along has been we will get Ukraine the capabilities that will enable it to succeed on the battlefield.”
While Finer’s statement alone does not represent a shift in White House policy, officials speaking anonymously say that the president has edged “closer” to signing off on ATACMS deliveries, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.
“A decision could be coming soon,” a senior official told the newspaper. Two days earlier, another anonymous official told ABC News that “[the missiles] are coming.”
The delivery of every major weapons platform to Ukraine – such as infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, and fighter jets – has followed a similar pattern; first, American officials deny Kiev’s requests, arguing that supplying the weapons in question would be too escalatory a step. Anonymous officials then tell US media outlets that the Biden administration is reconsidering its position. Finally, a glut of news articles suggest that Biden is ready to sign off on providing the weapons, before the president makes a formal announcement several days or weeks later.
Ukraine has requested ATACMS missiles since last year. However, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters last July that handing over these weapons could provoke a “third world war.” White House and Pentagon officials also claimed that the US had too few of the missiles in its stockpiles to spare.
The latter concern has seemingly been alleviated, with two officials telling ABC News that “the US has found it has more ATACMS in its inventory than originally assessed.” Concerns over escalation have also faded, with ABC reporting that the White House is aware that Ukraine will likely use these missiles to strike targets in the Russian territory of Crimea.
Utilized by American forces in the Gulf and Iraq Wars, 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 the US and UK have already sent to Ukraine.