In a recent development in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the Ukrainian military has obtained the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The system was reportedly used to carry out long-range strikes against Russian forces. This acquisition comes after Ukraine had been requesting the ATACMS from the United States for about a year.
On Tuesday, the Ukrainian military launched 18 missiles at targets in Berdyansk and Luhansk, which are Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine. As a result, nine Russian helicopters were struck, and significant losses in military equipment were reported on the Russian side.
It is worth noting that the specific ATACMS missiles sent by the U.S. to Ukraine are equipped with cluster munitions, which have a shorter range and spread out over a wide area when used. This differs from some other ATACMS missiles that can travel longer distances. The exact number of missiles sent by the U.S. and the timing of their delivery had been unclear until this recent strike.
President Zelensky had been requesting the ATACMS from President Joe Biden for a year, but the Biden Administration had initially declined to provide them. ATACMS is a long-range guided missile system that can fire up to a maximum range of 186 miles. The U.S. has used this system in previous military operations, such as Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
Before acquiring the ATACMS, Ukraine had limited range with its existing missile systems, which had a range of about 45 miles. The U.S. decision to provide the missiles to Ukraine was met with some initial reluctance due to concerns about potentially escalating the conflict with Russia.
In addition to the ATACMS missiles, the U.S. recently sent $325 million in additional "security assistance" to Ukraine, according to the State Department.
Overall, this development marks a significant shift in the military capabilities of Ukraine and has the potential to impact the ongoing conflict with Russia. However, the situation remains highly complex and fluid, and it is important to closely monitor further developments and their potential implications.