Zelensky confirms first deployment of ATACMS missiles from US

Source: Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa), Defence Industry Europe

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday evening confirmed the receipt and first deployment of Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles from the United States.

 

He thanked US President Joe Biden for the support and confirmed that the agreements reached would be implemented.

“They are being implemented very closely,” he said in his evening video address. “The ATACMS have proven their worth.”

According to Ukrainian and US media reports, the ATACMS were used for the first time in the morning in attacks on two airports in eastern Ukraine run by the Russian occupiers.

 

Defence

 

Kiev had requested the weapon system some time ago. According to Ukrainian sources, nine helicopters were destroyed in the attacks on airfields near the cities of Luhansk and Berdyansk on Tuesday.

In addition, special technology, an anti-aircraft launching pad and weapons arsenals were destroyed, the army’s special forces in Kiev announced on Telegram on Tuesday. Runways were also damaged.

The ATACMS missiles, which are fired from the ground at targets on the ground, have a range of up to 300 kilometres and hit very accurately, according to defence contractor Lockheed Martin.

However, as the New York Times and the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing US government officials, the missiles now delivered to Kiev are throttled-down models.

Because of their relatively long range, the ATACMS are often compared with the German Taurus cruise missiles, which Kiev is also seeking to acquire. The Taurus cruise missiles are suitable for destroying bunkers and protected command posts at ranges of up to 500 kilometres.

 

 

In addition to ATACMS and Taurus, weapons with a possible range of hundreds of kilometres also include the Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles, which Kiev has received from Britain and France.

There are concerns that these weapons systems could also be used to attack targets in Russia. For this reason, the US and other Western partners has reacted very hesitantly to Kiev’s demands for a long time. This hesitation could indicate that the US has now provided Ukraine with a version with a shorter range. The US Department of Defence did not initially provide any information on this.

Kiev has repeatedly rejected these concerns in recent months. Zelensky affirmed that his country was not planning to attack Moscow or other targets on Russian soil with the missiles. He described the ATACMS as militarily very important.

In September, Zelensky met Biden at the White House in Washington. During the visit, the Ukrainian leader also accepted new pledges of military aid.

At that time, there was initially no public commitment to the delivery of ATACMS. The US government is said to have eventually promised Zelensky the ATACMS without communicating this publicly.

Ukraine has been defending itself against a full-scale Russian invasion since the end of February 2022.

 

 

The US is considered Ukraine’s most important ally in the defensive struggle against the Russian invasion. Since the beginning of the war, the US has provided Ukraine with military equipment worth around $44 billion, according to the US Department of Defence.

Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is classifying Russia’s recent military operations in eastern Ukraine as possibly the biggest wave of attacks in months.

“Russia has highly likely begun a coordinated offensive across multiple axes in the east of Ukraine,” the MoD said on Tuesday in its daily intelligence update on the X short-message service.

Russian forces have been mounting a sustained assault on the town of Avdiivka for some time. The city has so far been a major obstacle in the Russians’ attempts to take full control of the Donetsk region, which is partly occupied by Moscow, the MoD wrote. According to its assessment, several tank battalions could try to surround the town.

“It is likely to be the most significant offensive operation undertaken by Russia since at least January 2023.”

 

Defence

 

Entrenched Ukrainian forces had so far probably prevented a Russian advance, the British said.

The war in Ukraine began with a full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022, since when Russian troops illegally annexed four regions in the east, including Donetsk. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula back in 2014.

Ukraine, backed by Western nations with military and financial means, has vowed to take the territories back.

The MoD has been publishing daily information on the course of the war since the beginning of the fighting. Moscow accuses London of spreading disinformation.

 

Source: dpa.

 

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