The United States secretly sent Ukraine a small number of ATACMS ballistic missiles with a range of 160 km, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. Ukraine fired the first of them on Tuesday, as officially announced by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The Wall Street Journal reports confirm speculations and suggestions on Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels that Ukraine used these missiles for the first time to attack air bases near occupied Berdyansk and Luhansk, during which nine Russian helicopters were destroyed.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that Ukrainian forces used American ATACMS ballistic missiles.
“Today, special words of thanks are due to the USA. Our arrangements with President (Joe) Biden are being implemented. They are being implemented very thoroughly. ATACMS has presented itself,” Zelensky said in a traditional recording addressed to his compatriots and posted on social networks.
Fears of starting World War III
Ukraine has long sought ATACMS missiles, but for a long time the White House refused to deliver them. President Biden and his adviser Jake Sullivan justified this last year by fears of starting World War III. The Pentagon suggested that the US had too few missiles in its resources. However, the breakthrough occurred around the NATO summit in Vilnius, and according to press reports, the decision was made during President Zelensky’s visit to the White House in September.
Although the US administration has not officially confirmed these reports, President Joe Biden has suggested that they are true.
– I talked to Zelensky and we got everything he asked for, Biden said, referring to a question on this topic.
Attack on the occupiers’ bases
ATACMS are ballistic missiles fired from HIMARS and M270 MLRS launchers with a range of up to 300 km. Materials posted on Telegram show that Ukraine received a variant with a fragmentation warhead with a range of 160 km.
On Tuesday, the Special Operations Forces (SSO) of the Ukrainian army reported that as a result of the attack on airfields used by the Russian army near Berdyansk and Luhansk, nine Russian helicopters, an air defense system launcher and specialized aviation equipment were destroyed.
The media in Kiev published recordings of the sounds of explosions, and also reported the destruction of an ammunition warehouse and damaged airport runways.
Russian war bloggers commented on Telegram channels that the attack on the airports in Berdyansk and Luhansk was one of the “most serious strikes by Ukrainian forces during the armed invasion.”
Main photo source: US Army