The Biden administration is holding off on sending Ukraine longer-range missiles, The Washington Post reported Saturday, citing unnamed US officials.
Other recent media reports said that the administration was moving closer to arming Ukraine with Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which have a range of up to 190 miles. But US officials said that wasn’t the case and that US policy on the issue hasn’t changed.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the administration was debating giving Ukraine ATACMS, but according to the Post, US officials said there has been “no substantive discussion about the issue for months.”
Providing ATACMS would be a significant escalation of US support for Ukraine as they could be fired from the US-provided HIMARS rocket systems and would more than double Ukraine’s artillery striking capability. The UK recently began sending Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, which are air-launched munitions with a range of 155 miles.
The administration has been under pressure from hawks in Congress to send the ATACMS, and Ukrainian officials continue to publicly demand the munitions. ATACMS would give Ukraine the ability to hit targets deep in Crimea and inside the Russian mainland, which would risk a major escalation of the war.
The main argument within the administration against providing Ukraine with ATACMS is not over escalation concerns but because the Pentagon doesn’t think it has enough to spare. The Post report said that the Pentagon worries “that sending enough to Ukraine to make a difference on the battlefield would severely undercut US readiness for other possible conflicts.”