Ukraine Asks US for Long-Range ATACMS Missiles to Strike Crimea

Ukrainian officials stepped up their efforts to convince Washington to provide it with ATACMS missiles with a range of up to 300 km. Kyiv needs them, among other things, for strikes in the Crimea – on the bases of Iranian drones, representatives of Congress, American and Ukrainian officials told The Wall Street Journal.

Until now, President Joe Biden has refused to supply ATACMS, fearing that strikes on Russian territory would be perceived in Moscow as a transition to a direct military conflict between Russia and the United States. Pentagon spokeswoman Laura Cooper said on Tuesday that the Department of Defense had assessed Ukraine’s needs on the battlefield and had decided that the previously provided HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems, which could hit 80 km, were sufficient. “We believe they can achieve the vast majority of targets, including in Crimea,” Cooper said, adding, “And just to be clear, Crimea is Ukraine.”

Ukraine intends to strike Russian bases that launch Iranian drones used to destroy civilian infrastructure, Major General Borys Kremenetsky, Defense Attaché at the Ukrainian Embassy in the United States, said on Thursday. Without mentioning ATACMS, he said that longer-range missiles are needed that could be launched from HIMARS to strike “on occupied Ukrainian territory.” Kremenetsky did not say whether the targets for such missiles could be in the Crimea.

But Ukrainians have told US lawmakers they need ATACMS to strike an airbase in Crimea where they believe Iranian drones are located, congressional officials told the WSJ. This was confirmed by the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Alexandra Ustinova. “We know where the drones are coming from, we just can’t get to them,” she said.

ATACMS top the list of weapons Ukraine is asking for from Western allies; Ukrainians are ready to do everything to remove the fears of the Americans, and provided them with a list of targets against which these missiles will be used, CNN reports. “We have accurately described what specific targets we need to hit on our territory, which we cannot reach with those [оружием]what we have now,” a senior Ukrainian official told the agency. “The categories of goals are clear and do not change.”

Among such targets are the supply lines of the Russian army located at a longer distance, weapons depots in the east and south of Ukraine, including in the Crimea. ATACMS will be allowed to hit places in Crimea where Russia launches Iranian drones and which HIMARS cannot reach, a U.S. source familiar with Ukrainian requests told CNN.

But these requests have not yet convinced the Americans. “The reason we don’t give them these weapons [ракеты ATACMS]disagreement over strikes against targets in Crimea,” a congressional spokesman told the WSJ.

Previously, Ukraine has already launched strikes in Crimea, but without the use of American weapons. Thus, in August, at least nine Su-24 and Su-30SM combat aircraft were destroyed at the Saki airfield, the main air force base of the Black Sea Fleet. How this was done is still not clear, although on September 7 the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced that a missile attack had been carried out on the base.

Previous attacks by Ukrainians in Crimea did not bother the United States, but providing Kyiv with more powerful American weapons carries certain risks, said John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine. He personally supports ATACMS supplies, but admits that Crimea is perceived differently in Russia than, for example, the territories that Ukraine recently liberated during the counteroffensive:

I am sure that Crimea is dearer to the heart of the Kremlin than any of the places they recently allegedly annexed.



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