For the first time on October 17, the Ukrainian armed forces used U.S.-made ATACMS missiles with cluster munitions against Russian armed forces operating on Ukrainian territory. This information was initially reported by different sources, including The New York Times and Politico.
According to the WSJ, the United States recently transferred to Ukraine a small number of ATACMS missiles, which have a range of about 160 kilometers. The Ukrainian version of these missiles are equipped with cluster munitions and have been used in an attack on Russian airbases located on Ukrainian territory under the control of Russian armed forces.
Oleksiy Honcharenko, a member of the Verkhovna Rada, confirmed the use of these missiles, saying, "Well, we already have ATACMS." He also claims that the missiles were used in an attack on an airfield in Berdyansk. Ukraine's armed forces announced that they had carried out attacks on airfields in Luhansk and Berdyansk, which are under the control of Russian forces.
The attack destroyed nine helicopters, air defense systems, military equipment and ammunition depots and damaged runways. Ukraine's Special Operations Forces claim casualties among Russian troops, reporting deaths and injuries numbering in the dozens.
Since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Ukraine has expressed a request for U.S. ATACMS missiles from the United States. At first, U.S. authorities were skeptical of this request, fearing that the use of these missiles by the Ukrainian armed forces could lead to uncertain consequences and escalation of the conflict, up to and including strikes on Russian territory. Ukrainian authorities have assured that they will not use the long-range missiles to attack internationally recognized Russian territory.
However, at a meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Volodymyr Zelensky on September 21, 2023 in Washington DC, media reported that the US president signaled his willingness to provide Ukraine with long-range missiles. The US Army said on October 3 that it was ready to send ATACMS missiles to Ukraine as soon as it was approved by Biden. There have been no official statements on the deliveries from the USA so far.
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