(LibertySociety.com) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude to the United States on October 17 for delivering a small supply of long-range ballistic missiles to the war-torn country. In September, President Biden met with Zelenskyy at the White House, promising that the United States would supply the missiles. The decision came after months of hesitation due to concerns that Ukraine would ignite escalation from Russia if it launched the missiles far into Russian territory.
The Army Tactical Missile System, commonly referred to as ATACMS, was delivered to Ukraine secretly unlike previous weapons deliveries. The version of the missile Ukraine received is shorter in range than others, with the capability of hitting a target 100 miles away. The missiles are also filled with cluster munitions instead of one warhead. The cluster munitions are designed to hit multiple targets at the same time, with small bomblets exploding when the missile is fired. Cluster munitions have been widely criticized for their history of injuring and killing civilians.
Ukraine claimed to have targeted two Russian airfields with the ATACMS during the night and destroyed nine helicopters, personnel, and additional military equipment. Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, said that the decision to send the ATACMS to Ukraine was a “grave mistake.” He also said that the outcome of the war would not be altered by the ATACMS. This shipment of less than a dozen missiles is the second time that the United States has sent this type of weapon to Ukraine. The United States remained tight-lipped about the missiles, expecting a public announcement to come once they had been used.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently reacted to the delivery of the missiles during a press conference held after he visited China. Putin had a similar message as Antonov but added that using the missiles “just prolongs the agony” for Ukraine. Russia has increased the intensity of its attacks on Ukrainian forces in recent weeks.
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