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ISW: Russia facing new threat after Ukraine receives US-made ATACMS missiles 

himars atacms missiles
M142 HIMARS and ATACMS missiles/ Source: Militarniy, mil.in.ua, photo by Mariusz Burcz
ISW: Russia facing new threat after Ukraine receives US-made ATACMS missiles 

The US-made ATACMS missiles are posing a threat to Russian troops and will force its command to adapt to new Ukrainian strike capabilities, says the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). 

“The Russian military has consistently shown it can adapt to new Ukrainian strike capabilities — but only after suffering initial and pronounced losses from Ukrainian capabilities Russian commanders realistically should have prepared for,” the new ISW report reveals. 

On 17 October, Ukraine used US-provided ATACMS long-range missiles to strike Russian targets in occupied Ukraine for the first time. In a nightly address that day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that ATACMS “have proven themselves” but did not directly confirm ATACMS were used in these strikes, and multiple Russian sources claimed Ukrainian forces used ATACMS in the Berdiansk strike.

According to the ISW, Ukrainian ATACMS strikes on operationally significant Russian airfields in Ukraine will likely prompt the Russian command to disperse aviation assets and withdraw some aircraft to airfields further from the frontline.

In addition, the US-based thinktank says the arrival of ATACMS long-range missiles poses a significant threat to Russian ammunition depots in rear areas and will likely force the Russian command to choose between fortifying existing depots or further dispersing depots throughout occupied Ukraine.

“The Russian command will likely have to consider the potential Ukrainian use of ATACMS when making operational and tactical decisions about the placement of military assets regardless of the frequency of such strikes,” the report concludes.

However, Ukraine has likely received a limited number of ATACMS, and will need more if it is to sustain and amplify these initial effects.

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