Pentagon: Ukraine authorized to target Russian forces in Crimea with ATACMS missiles

ATACMS missile
ATACMS missile

Senior Pentagon officials have confirmed that Ukraine may utilize the long-range ATACMS missiles provided by the United States to target Russian military assets in Crimea, The New York Times reported on April 25.

Crimea has been a strategic stronghold for Russian air and ground forces, which until now have enjoyed relative safety from Ukrainian strikes.

"The goal for the new longer-range systems is to put more pressure on Crimea, a hub of Russian air and ground forces, ‘where, right now, Russia has had relatively safe haven’," a senior defense official said.

Read also: Russian propagandists in panic over US supplying long-range ATACMS to Ukraine - Video

U.S. national security officials have also said that a significant portion of the long-delayed weapons should be focused on strengthening Ukraine's defense. The new system will allow Ukraine to strike at Russian targets deep in the occupied territories, as well as attack logistics hubs in the southeast, the NYT writes.

"One of the things we’ve been able to see is that when Ukraine is supplied, they’ve been able to be effective," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown Jr.

ATACMS for Ukraine

The bill on assistance to Ukraine, signed by U.S. President Joe Biden on April 24, mentions that Ukraine should receive long-range ATACMS missiles. The White House was previously afraid to approve the transfer of such missiles to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, arguing that it was an alleged risk of escalation in the confrontation with Russia.

Ukraine received a small number of shorter-range ATACMS missiles with cluster warheads in the fall of 2023. These were MGM-140A missiles (also known as M39 or ATACMS Block I) with a maximum range of 165 km.

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The Wall Street Journal reported on March 13, 2024, that the Pentagon was ready to provide Ukraine with longer-range ATACMS ballistic missiles. At the time, U.S. officials said that due to progress in the acquisition of the next-generation Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) system, the Pentagon was open to providing its longer-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine.

Reuters reported on April 24, citing a U.S. official, that Washington had already secretly sent ATACMS to Ukraine. According to journalists, Ukraine used them for strikes in Crimea last week. This information was later confirmed by the Pentagon.

Read also: US secretly shipped ATACMS missiles to Ukraine in March

The New York Times reported on April 25, citing a senior U.S. official, that in March Ukraine secretly received more than 100 ATACMS missiles and a large number of cluster munitions from the United States.

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