Washington, Sep 22 (EFE).- NBC reported Friday that US President Joe Biden assured Volodymyr Zelensky that his government would supply him with long-range ATACMS missiles.
Ukraine has been insistently demanding these missiles for months. Still, the US had been reluctant to do so for fear of provoking an escalation of war with Russia.
On Friday, three congressional sources confirmed to NBC that at Thursday’s meeting between Biden and Zelensky at the White House, the US president indicated he would provide Ukraine with “a small quantity” of ATACMS missiles.
These sources did not specify when the official announcement will be made public or when the shipment is scheduled.
The White House on Friday refused to confirm this news and limited itself to reiterating that the US will help Ukraine “for as long as necessary.”
Presidential spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told a press conference that Thursday’s meeting between the two leaders “sent a strong signal to the world” that Washington will continue to support Kyiv.
During the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Biden mentioned last July that they were considering sending ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. Still, at the time, they focused on sending artillery, as that is what is used most on the battlefield.
Ukraine has since stepped up its insistence, arguing that ATACMS would be particularly effective in neutralizing Russian missile launchers in Crimea, where Odesa is often attacked.
The $325 million aid package to Ukraine announced Thursday by Biden did not mention such missiles.
That package contained weaponry to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses against Russian attacks, both now and during the coming winter when Russia could again attack critical infrastructure such as the power supply needed to keep homes warm.
Specifically, it includes another HAWK air defense battery, which can shoot down aircraft, and systems capable of intercepting missiles to protect the civilian population.
The ATACMS have a range of about 300 kilometers (186.411 miles), about 64 kilometers (39.8 miles) longer than the French SCALP and the British Storm Shadow missiles, which both countries have already authorized to be sent to Ukraine. The US had already sent HIMARS rockets to Ukraine, but their range is about 80 kilometers (49.7 miles). EFE