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US long-range missiles sent to Ukraine will not change war's outcome, says Russia

The US had been secretly shipping long-range missiles to Ukraine in recent weeks as the latter's war with Russia has almost reached a breaking point. The missiles were contained in a $300 million military aid package for Ukraine that was approved by President Biden in March.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Moscow Published on: April 25, 2024 20:11 IST
US, missile supplies, Ukraine
Image Source : REUTERS (FILE) US President Joe Biden and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last year.

Moscow: The Kremlin on Thursday criticised the United States for sending long-rang Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine, saying that the military assistance would not change the outcome of the war but would create more problems. This came after an official said that Washington has secretly shipped long-range missiles to Ukraine in recent weeks to aid its war against Russia.

The missiles were contained in a $300 million military aid package for Ukraine that US President Joe Biden approved on March 12, said the official speaking on condition of anonymity. The official would not say how many of the missiles were sent. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also confirmed that a "significant number" of missiles had been sent to Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: "The US is directly involved in this conflict. They are following the path of increasing the operating range of the weapon systems they supply... This will not fundamentally change the outcome of the special military operation. We will achieve our goal. But this will cause more problems for Ukraine itself".

What is special about the missiles?

The Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) with a range of up to 300 km and sending it to Ukraine was a subject of intense debate within the Biden administration for months. The missiles were used for the first time on April 17 against a Russian airfield in Crimea that was about 165 km (103 miles) from the Ukrainian front lines, the official said.

The Pentagon initially opposed the long-range missile deployment, fearing the loss of the missiles from the American stockpile would hurt U.S. military readiness. There were also concerns that Ukraine would use them to attack targets deep inside Russia. However, Russia's use of North Korean-supplied long-range ballistic missiles against Ukraine, despite US warnings, changed things.

Sullivan said Ukraine has committed to only use the weapons inside Ukraine, not in Russia. Some of the missiles were contained in a $1 billion weapons package for Ukraine that President Joe Biden approved on Wednesday, Sullivan said. Russia's targeting of Ukraine's critical infrastructure was also a deciding factor in the US deployment.

US President Joe Biden met with his national security team in mid-February and agreed to accept the unanimous recommendation of his advisers to send the missiles to Ukraine. The challenge at that point was to figure out how to pay for the missiles, as the US exhausted all its funding options and congressional gridlock posed hurdles for further aid.

Biden signs $95 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel

Biden on Wednesday formally signed a $95 billion war aid measure package into law that includes military assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan while also including a provision that would force social media platform TikTok to be sold or be banned in the US. This came after the US Senate passed the package after months of delays following a furious debate over US priorities.

The announcement marks an end to the long, painful battle with Republicans in Congress over urgently needed assistance for Ukraine. “We rose to the moment, we came together, and we got it done," Biden said at White House event to announce the signing. "Now we need to move fast, and we are.”

The package includes air defence capabilities, artillery rounds, armoured vehicles and other weapons to shore up Ukrainian forces who have seen morale sink as Russian President Vladimir Putin has racked up win after win. But longer term, it remains uncertain if Ukraine — after months of losses in Eastern Ukraine and sustaining massive damage to its infrastructure — can make enough progress to sustain American political support before burning through the latest influx of money.

Far-right Republicans have also adamantly opposed sending more money for Ukraine, with the war appearing to have no end in sight. Biden in August requested more than $20 billion to keep aid flowing into Ukraine, but the money was stripped out of a must-pass spending bill even as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy travelled to Washington to make a personal plea for continued US backing.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Biden signs package for $95 billion in military aid to Ukraine and Israel, TikTok ban


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