Ukraine Hits Russia With Missiles From Who?, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

( – Ukraine has begun using advanced long-range ballistic missiles provided secretly by the United States, targeting Russian military locations including an airfield in Crimea. This marks a significant enhancement in Ukraine’s military capabilities, increasing its strike range to nearly 300 kilometers, a substantial upgrade from the mid-range missiles previously supplied by the U.S.

This new capability was included in a recent U.S. military aid package endorsed by President Joe Biden, part of a broader strategy shift after months of cautious deliberation over the potential for escalation. The long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) was sent as part of a $300 million package announced in March, and further missiles were included in a subsequent $1 billion aid package.

The decision to provide these advanced missiles stemmed from increasing challenges faced by Ukrainian forces, including intensified Russian attacks. The U.S. had initially hesitated to supply long-range missiles due to concerns they could be used for deep strikes into Russian-held territory, potentially provoking Moscow. However, strategic assessments led by U.S. military planners eventually supported the provision of these missiles, considering the escalating needs on the battlefield.

Adm. Christopher Grady highlighted that these missiles would disrupt Russian logistics and troop concentrations away from front lines, enhancing Ukraine’s tactical options. The delivery of these systems was kept confidential, with even U.S. lawmakers unaware of their presence in Ukraine until they were deployed.

As the war enters its third year, these long-range missiles are expected to significantly impact the battlefield dynamics, allowing Ukrainian forces to conduct more strategic and effective operations against Russian forces, despite ongoing shortages in artillery and air defense systems.

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