US position on ATACMS remains unchanged
The US will not be following Britain’s precedent in sending long-range missiles to Ukraine, Politico reports. This is despite the recent decision by the U.K. to transfer missiles with a 300 km range, similar to the US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), which Washington has declined to provide to Kyiv. The U.K. Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, has yet to comment on the details of this commitment.
In response to Britain’s move, officials from President Joe Biden’s administration have expressed relief, according to Politico citing according to multiple US officials who spoke to NatSec Daily. They hope that the U.K.’s provision of long-range capability will quieten those calling for the US to supply ATACMS to Ukraine. When asked by NatSec Daily whether the US might emulate Britain’s actions, an unnamed official clarified that their stance on ATACMS remained unchanged, i,e. that the US will not send them, and that the US would continue to supply air-defense capabilities, ammunition, and armored vehicles.
There have also been reservations due to the limited stock of ATACMS in the US arsenal. “From a military standpoint, we have relatively few ATACMS, we do have to make sure that we maintain our own munitions inventories, as well,” Gen. Mark Milley, the Joint Chiefs chair, told Defense One in March.
Furthermore, a source close to the matter disclosed that the U.K. has stipulated that Ukraine can only use the long-range missiles within Ukrainian territory. This reflects the Biden administration’s concerns about providing ATACMS to Ukraine, fearing the missiles could be used to strike deep into Russia.
UK prepares to send long-range missiles to Ukraine
As of 9 May 2023, the UK has been preparing to send long-range missiles to Ukraine, a move that Ukraine argues could significantly alter the trajectory of the war. This development follows the UK’s intention to enable Ukrainian forces to target Russian command centers more effectively.
Earlier in the month, on 1 May 2023, the UK announced a purchase of missiles with a range of 100-300 km for Ukraine. This procurement, as announced by the UK-led International Fund, is anticipated to be delivered in the “near future”. This support is seen as increasingly vital as Russian missile attacks continue to intensify, with a significant number of them raining into Ukraine overnight, causing injuries.
On 3 May 2023, reports indicated that Russia was shifting its cruise missile strikes from energy targets to Ukraine’s military and industrial infrastructure, according to UK intelligence. This shift has increased the urgency for Ukraine to bolster its missile defense.
Further back in February 2023, the UK considered including Harpoon anti-ship missiles or Storm Shadow air-to-surface missiles in the next military aid for Ukraine. This consideration demonstrated an early commitment from the UK to bolster Ukraine’s missile capabilities amid Russia’s invasion.
However, concerns regarding Ukraine’s missile capabilities were raised on 6 May 2023 after Pentagon leaks showed a possible defense missile shortage in Ukraine. This potential shortage could aid Russia’s air forces in gaining superiority in the air, underscoring the importance of external missile support for Ukraine.