US President Joe Biden plans to give Ukraine advanced long-range missiles to help Kyiv with its ongoing counter-offensive, US media report.

They quote US officials familiar with the issue as saying Ukraine will get some ATACMS missiles with a range of up to 190 miles (300km).

This would enable Kyiv to hit Russian targets deep behind the front line.

At least one Ukrainian missile hit the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea fleet in annexed Crimea on Friday.

A Ukrainian military source told the BBC the attack in the port of Sevastopol was carried out using Storm Shadow missiles, which are supplied by Britain and France, highlighting the importance of Western weaponry to Kyiv.

Such missiles have a range of just over 150 miles.

An ATACMS missile being fired. File photo
Image caption,

Kyiv has for months been pushing for ATACMS to boost its hard-going counter-offensive

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal quote unnamed US officials as saying President Biden told his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky that Kyiv would get “a small number” of ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) missiles. The two leaders met at the White House on Thursday.

The WSJ adds that the weapons will be sent in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post cites several people familiar with the discussions as saying Ukraine will get ATACMS armed with cluster bomblets rather than a single warhead.

Neither the US nor Ukraine have officially confirmed the American media reports.

 

After the Biden-Zelensky talks Washington announced a new tranche of $325m (£265m) in military aid – including artillery and ammunition – for Ukraine. America’s Abrams tanks will be delivered to Kyiv next week.

However, both presidents have been evasive on the ATACMS issue.

“I believe that most of what we were discussing with President Biden yesterday… we will be able to reach an agreement [on],” Mr Zelensky said on Friday during a visit to Canada.

“Yes, [this is] a matter of time. Not everything depends on Ukraine,” he added.

Kyiv has for months been pushing for ATACMS to boost its tough and bloody counter-offensive in the south.

It says key Russian supply lines, command positions and other logistical hubs deep behind the front line would then be within striking distance, forcing Moscow to move them further away and thus making it harder to resupply troops and weaponry.

Russian positions in the occupied Ukrainian regions in the south – including Crimea – would be particularly vulnerable, Ukraine says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and the Biden administration was initially hesitant to provide Ukraine with modern weaponry.

But its stance has since shifted dramatically, with Kyiv getting high-precision Himars long-range rocket systems and Patriot air defence missiles.

Still, President Biden has been hesitant regarding ATACMS deliveries, amid fears that such missiles could bring a direct clash with nuclear-armed Russia

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