There has been “no substantive discussion” about the issue for months, the Washington Post has reported
Despite months of constant pleas from Kiev and pressure from some US lawmakers, President Joe Biden’s Administration is no closer to changing its policy on supplying Ukraine with the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing unnamed defense and administration officials.
Several officials “familiar with the issue” have dismissed the growing perception of a “slow, gravitational pull” toward approval of longer-range munitions, saying that there has been no change in US policy or even any kind of substantive discussion about it for months, the newspaper wrote.
Ukrainian officials had been mulling a major counterattack for months, claiming that it would end in the recapture of all territories lost to Russia, including Crimea. The operation finally started in early June, but has so far failed to achieve any significant gains, despite heavy losses in manpower and hardware on the Ukrainian side.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed earlier this month that Kiev had hoped to launch its military pushback much sooner, but was hampered by a lack of Western-supplied weapons. He also complained that the Russian advantage in long-range weapons seriously complicates Kiev’s counteroffensive.
“At this point, it’s very clear and understandable. We need and are waiting for decisions on ATACMS,” the head of Zelensky’s presidential staff, Andrey Yermak, reiterated at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday.
ATACMS missiles can strike targets as far as 300 kilometers (190 miles) away. Officials in the Biden administration repeatedly said the US wouldn’t send such long-range missiles to Ukraine because such a precedent could provoke a wider conflict if used to attack targets in Russian territory. However, the UK has since supplied Kiev with an unspecified number of its own Storm Shadow long-range missiles, a decision that was apparently run by Washington first.
The Pentagon’s stockpiles of ATACMS are also extremely limited, according to the paper. Lockheed Martin reportedly made only about 4,000 ATACMS since production began in the 1980s, with at least 900 sold to allies and many more used by the US Army in the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.