Several outlets previously reported that Washington was moving closer to approving ATACMS deliveries
The White House does not plan to announce a decision on deliveries of long-range missiles to Ukraine during President Vladimir Zelensky’s upcoming visit to Washington, news website Axios reported on Saturday, citing sources.
According to one Ukrainian source, Kiev had hoped US President Joe Biden would greenlight shipments of the Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) following his meeting with Zelensky on Thursday.
However, an unnamed US official told Axios that while the issue was raised during US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip to Kiev last week, “there is still a debate within the Biden administration about the supply of ATACMS.”
The Axios article follows reports from Western media outlets including CNN, the Financial Times, and ABC News, claiming that the US administration was edging closer to a decision on the matter. A Politico report earlier this month said that while Ukrainian officials expected the move to be approved by the time of Zelensky’s visit to Washington, US officials viewed the timeline as “too tight.”
Ukraine has long been requesting ATACMS, which have a range of up to 300km, but Washington has so far been reluctant to oblige, citing concerns they could be used for strikes deep inside Russia, triggering an escalation of the conflict.
However, Ukraine has already received long-range Storm Shadow and Scalp missiles from the UK and France, respectively, which has used to strike targets including civilian infrastructure in Donbass and the Crimean Peninsula.
On Friday US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan confirmed that Washington was likely to approve a new package of military assistance to Kiev “at some point next week.” He said he was certain that the US Congress would agree to continue supporting Ukraine despite growing skepticism among Republican lawmakers.
Russia has repeatedly warned the West against sending weapons to Ukraine, arguing that it will only prolong the conflict, without changing its outcome. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also noted that the more long-range Western systems arrive in Ukraine, the further Moscow will “have to push the threat away from our borders.”