U.S. defense officials have advised the Biden administration against supplying Kiev with the longer range missiles, known as Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMs), citing fears that the Ukrainian military would use these weapons against Russia thus expanding the conflict, according to NBC News.
“I believe that if the Ukrainian government acquired long-range missiles, they would use them against the territory of the Russian Federation. I think that’s a decision they’ve already indicated that would take place. So it’s not a question of ‘would they do it?’ the question is: ‘Are they going to be provided with the means to carry out this intention?'” says Scott Ritter, a military analyst and former US Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and Iraq.
Having received High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the U.S., Kiev has doubled down, urging Washington to provide long-range missiles, something that the Biden administration has declined to do so far. The latest request from the Ukrainian leadership shared with American lawmakers and viewed by The Wall Street Journal contains dozens of types of weapons Kiev claims it will need “to press its offensive into 2023”. Among them are ATACMs boasting a range of about 190 miles (305 kilometers). Currently, the maximum range of US-provided missiles to Ukraine is around 49 miles (78.8 kilometers).
“I have read that the Biden administration has had an increasingly strained relationship with Ukrainian President Zelensky and Zelensky’s attempts to expand the war into Russia are likely one of the primary points of disagreement that the Biden administration has had with him,” says David T. Pyne, an EMP Task Force scholar and former US Department of Defense officer.
Russia’s special military operation was launched on February 24, 2022, after the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), recognized by Moscow as independent states, appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian eight year-long attacks against the breakaway region and its civilians. As the special operation continues, Kiev persists in shelling the territory of the Donbass republics targeting not only military and industrial facilities, but also residential areas and infrastructure. In addition to that, the Ukrainian military has repeatedly struck residential areas of Russia’s border regions. On September 16, two civilians sustained injuries and one died, according to the local authorities, after Ukrainian troops shelled the town of Valuyki in Russia’s Belgorod region.
It appears that the Biden administration “has subordinated U.S. national security policy to the Zelensky regime,” which refuses to hold peace talks while “it is the U.S. that should be setting clear and achievable objectives and calling for a peace conference based on those objectives in the realization that there is no chance whatsoever that Ukraine can defeat Russia in this war,” according to Pyne.