In yet another reversal, President Joe Biden said the issue of providing longer-range missiles for Ukraine remains a possibility after firmly denying Ukraine’s requests for the weapon.
The latest volley of Russian airstrikes on Kyiv, one of the most intense of the war, is “not unexpected” and further proof the U.S. needs to “continue to give Ukraine all they need,” Biden told reporter Alex Raufoglu on Monday. When asked whether that included the Army Tactical Missile System, a longer-range missile Ukraine has long asked the administration to supply, Biden seemed to crack open the door to a future offer after previously rejecting the possibility due to escalation concerns.
“That’s still in play,” Biden noted, according to a video Raufoglu posted on social media.
The administration has similarly softened its stance on other systems, including M1 Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter jets, over the course of the war.
Concern Ukrainian forces could conduct strikes deep into Russian territory, increasing the risk Russia could see the U.S. as enabling Ukraine’s aggression against Moscow, drove the administration’s repeated rebuttal of Kyiv’s many requests for ATACMS.
In meetings with Ukrainian officials, the Pentagon has also explained that the U.S. does not have sufficient spare ATACMS to provide Ukraine without cutting into the U.S.’ own military readiness, Politico reported in February, citing four people with knowledge of the talks.
“With any package, we always consider our readiness and our own stocks while providing Ukraine what it needs on the battlefield,” a senior Department of Defense official told Politico. “There are other ways of providing Ukraine with the capabilities it needs to strike the targets.”
So far, the longest range weapon the U.S. has provided Ukraine is the Ground Launched Small Diameter Bomb, which can be launched from High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) up to 93 miles, according to Defense News. ATACMS, also launched by HIMARS, would nearly double Ukraine’s current strike range up to 190 miles.
The United Kingdom confirmed a delivery of Storm Shadow cruise missiles, which have a range of about 155 miles, earlier in May following Ukraine’s calls for longer range missiles, Business Insider reported.
The Biden administration has so far balked at sending anything of that range, saying its aims have concentrated on on providing Ukraine with the capabilities it needs to successfully complete the imminent counteroffensive before shifting focus to building up Ukraine’s military in the long term.
“We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” Biden wrote in a June 1, 2022 editorial.
The White House did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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