Ukraine reportedly used long-range missiles secretly shipped over from the U.S. to attack a Russian airfield on Tuesday, according to Politico and visual evidence of the strikes.
Reports in September suggested the Biden administration was coming close to sending Ukraine the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), long-range missiles formerly considered a bridge too far in giving Kyiv the capability to strike Russian territory and risk major escalation. Now it appears that the missiles arrived in recent weeks as revealed in the strike on a Russian airfield in Berdyansk, in the Russian-occupied eastern part of the country, Politico reported, citing two people familiar with the deliveries.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had hinted the Ukrainian military used ATACMS to strike Russian targets, according to The Financial Times.
“I am grateful to those who are effectively destroying the occupiers’ logistics and bases on our land. There are results. I am grateful to some of our partners – the weapons are effective, as we agreed,” Zelenskyy said in a statement, according to The Telegraph.
Ukraine’s military claimed the strikes caused nine helicopter losses and the loss of one air defense launcher while hitting military depots, ammunition stockpiles and airstrips, the FT reported.
Kyiv has begged for the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) since near the beginning of Russia’s invasion in February 2022, arguing the missile’s 190-mile range affords the ability to strike deep into Russian defensive positions and possibly the aggressor’s sovereign territory. However, the White House worried that long-range missiles could increase the chances of conflict traveling further west into Europe, while the Pentagon said it did not have ATACMS to spare, according to Politico.
A Russian military blogger first reported the strikes on the Berdyansk airfield and claimed it was carried out by ATACMS, but did not provide evidence.
A tracker operated by NASA that collects data on global heat signatures showed fires at the airfield during the time of the attacks.
In addition, photos appeared to show M74 submunitions at the airfield, which are delivered by MGM-140 ATACMS.
The National Security Council and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Micaela Burrow on October 17, 2023