Biden gov’t leans towards arming Ukraine with long-range missiles

Biden Ukraine Long-Range Missiles

After persistent requests from Ukrainian officials, the Biden administration is moving towards supplying Ukraine with advanced long-range ballistic missiles, according to two U.S. officials.

Initially, the U.S. began providing Ukraine with the Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) late last year, but only the older medium-range variant. Presently, there’s a leaning towards delivering the longer-range ATACMS, which would enable Ukraine to target deeper into the Russian-held Crimean Peninsula.

However, uncertainty surrounds U.S. funding for arms shipments due to opposition from former President Donald Trump and Republican allies in Congress. Despite the Senate passing a $95 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, it remains unclear if or when the GOP-controlled House will vote on it.

Pro-Trump Republicans have conditioned their approval of military aid to Ukraine on the Biden administration accepting a package of GOP immigration and border security measures. This stance has resulted in the rejection of bipartisan compromises.

Defense officials highlight the limited inventory of ATACMS and the necessity of funding to replenish U.S. stockpiles before sending them to Ukraine.

If Congress approves additional funding for Ukraine, the U.S. could include the long-range ATACMS in early packages of military aid. The option of seeking allies’ assistance in providing missiles to Ukraine and replenishing their ATACMS stockpiles isn’t ruled out.

The White House and Pentagon are yet to comment, but Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has emphasized the necessity of longer-range weapons in discussions with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Kuleba stressed the importance of hitting deep into occupied territories to disrupt Russian capabilities, viewing long-range ATACMS as essential for this purpose.

The Biden administration’s reluctance to supply long-range missiles over the past two years stemmed from concerns about potential escalation by Russia. However, White House and Pentagon officials have now decided to proceed with providing them to Ukraine.