Biden Administration Contemplates Supplying Ukraine with Long-Range Ballistic Missiles

Biden administration shifts stance on supplying long-range missiles, recognizing their importance for Ukrainian defense.
  • bureau
  • 12:06 PM, February 20, 2024
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Biden Administration Contemplates Supplying Ukraine with Long-Range Ballistic Missiles
ATACMS missiles @Lockheed Martin

In response to mounting pressure from Ukrainian officials, the Biden administration is actively considering the provision of advanced long-range ballistic missiles to Ukraine, according to sources within the U.S. government.

This was first reported by NBC News. While earlier shipments included the Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), the focus now is on delivering the longer-range variant, potentially enabling Ukraine to target Russian-held territories more effectively, particularly in the Crimea region.

However, the uncertainty surrounding U.S. funding for military aid persists due to opposition from former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress. Despite the Senate passing a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan last week, the fate of the bill remains unclear in the GOP-controlled House.

Pro-Trump Republicans have linked their support for U.S. military aid to Ukraine with demands for concessions on GOP immigration and border security measures. The rejection of a bipartisan compromise on border security and immigration further complicates the situation, adding to the challenges of securing the necessary funding.

Defense officials have emphasized the limited inventory of ATACMS in the U.S. and indicated a reluctance to send them to Ukraine without the necessary funds to replenish domestic stockpiles. If Congress approves additional funding for Ukraine, the U.S. could include the long-range ATACMS in the initial packages of military aid.

Not ruling out the possibility of seeking assistance from allies, U.S. officials are exploring options to ensure Ukraine receives the crucial missiles. The White House, as of now, has not provided an official comment on the matter.

In a statement, a Defense Department spokesperson highlighted the necessity of a supplemental funding bill for security assistance to Ukraine, without which there is no package available for distribution.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Munich, emphasized Ukraine's urgent need for longer-range weapons. Kuleba asserted that the ability to strike deep into Russian-occupied territories is crucial for disrupting logistics, supplies, and ammunition depots.

Despite previous concerns about escalating tensions, the Biden administration has shifted its stance on supplying long-range missiles, recognizing their importance for Ukrainian defense. Kuleba, meanwhile, urged European allies to expedite the production of weapons and ammunition, emphasizing the pressing threat Russia poses to the continent.

According to the 'Russian Arms' Telegram channel, the Pentagon is set to transfer an unspecified quantity of extended-range operational-tactical ballistic missiles (MGM-140B and MGM-164 ATACMS Mod 2000) to individual missile and rocket artillery brigades in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. These missiles, with a 300 km range and a ballistic trajectory with a marching speed of 1500 - 1700 m/s, have specific warhead details.

The MGM-140B features cassette warheads with 275 M74 combat elements, offering a circular probable deviation of the cassette deployment point of 100 m. In contrast, the MGM-164 Mod 2000 is equipped with a 227-kilogram WDU-18B high-explosive fragmentation warhead with penetrating capabilities, and a CEP of 7 - 10 m.

To counter these missiles effectively, it is recommended to deploy additional batteries of S-300V4, S-400 air defense systems, and military Buk-M3 air defense systems with illumination radars operating below the 'upper beam'. This is crucial due to the ATACMS dive angles reaching 87 - 90 degrees in the terminal trajectory sections.

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