Biden Admin Covertly Shipped Long-Range Missiles to Ukraine in March

Biden Admin Covertly Shipped Long-Range Missiles to Ukraine in March
A member of Ukraine's 72nd Brigade Anti-air unit runs to a position as they prepare to fire a Strela -10 anti-air missile system after sighting a Russian Zala reconnaissance drone over head near Marinka, Ukraine on Feb. 23, 2024. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The Biden administration covertly shipped long-range missiles to Ukraine in March to assist the embattled nation against Russia’s invasion.

The administration shipped the long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Kyiv as part of a $300 million aid package, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on April 24.

“I’m able to confirm as you’ve heard from others that in February, the president directed his team to provide Ukraine with a significant number of ATACMS missiles for use inside Ukraine’s sovereign territory,” he said. “That shipment started moving in March as part of the [presidential drawdown authority] that the president authorized on March 12, and those missiles have arrived in Ukraine.”

The administration previously sent medium-range ATACMS to Ukraine in September 2023, but until March had stopped short of providing the long-range variant over fears that it would harm U.S. military readiness and risk escalation with Russia.

To that end, Mr. Sullivan said that several factors influenced the decision to send the long-range missiles to Ukraine, including Russia’s own purchase from North Korea of long-range missiles, which Moscow has used to attack civilian infrastructure including that related to food, energy, and housing.

He said that the Biden administration had improved its production capacities related to the weapons system and was thus no longer concerned that shipping the missiles to Ukraine would harm U.S. military readiness.

“On many occasions, we were unable to provide these ATACMS because of readiness concerns,” Mr. Sullivan said. “But behind the scenes, the administration across the board has worked relentlessly to address those concerns.”

“We now have a significant number of ATACMS coming off the production line and entering U.S. stocks and, as a result, we can move forward with providing ATACMS while also sustaining the readiness of the U.S. armed forces.”

Another point of concern was the possibility that Ukraine could use the long-range missiles to attack Russian territory, thereby risking a catastrophic escalation of hostilities.

Mr. Sullivan said that leadership in Kyiv had demonstrated its willingness to refrain from using key systems against Russian territory, however, and had agreed to not use the ATACMS against any part of Russia’s sovereign territory.

“They have followed through on that commitment, time and time again, with respect to the systems that we have provided them,” he said. “So we have confidence they will follow through on this commitment as well.”

Mr. Sullivan said there is “no silver bullet” to defeating Russia but that the missiles will likely help Ukraine to maintain or turn the tide against Russia in tactically important regions.

Ukraine’s continued ability to defend itself will help to drain Russia of the will to war in the long term, he said.

“I’m not going to get into specific numbers for operational reasons, but I believe they will make a difference,” Mr. Sullivan said.

“We believe that the structural dynamics of this conflict favor the country defending its own territory. We believe that occupation and invasion saps the will and vitality of a nation over time. And as long as Ukraine gets the tools that it needs to defend itself, it can do so effectively and it can win.”

From The Epoch Times

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