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Officials from the U.S. and Europe say the Biden administration is debating whether to arm Ukraine with long-range ATACMS missiles, the New York Times reports.
The Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as "attack 'ems," are surfact-to-surface guided cruise missiles with a range of over 300 kilometers.
President Zelensky has petitioned the Biden administration for the weapons in the past, describing the missiles as vital to defeat "Russian terror." The U.S. has refused to provide ATACMS, arguing that missiles that can reach Russia or occupied Crimea would represent a dangerous escalation in the ongoing war.
However, at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11, France pledged to supply Ukraine with long-range SCALP missiles, which can travel 250 kilometers. The French weapons system is equivalent to the British Storm Shadow, which the U.K. delivered to Ukraine in May 2023.
"In light of the situation and the counteroffensive being conducted in Ukraine, I have decided to increase deliveries of weapons and equipment and to provide the Ukrainians with deep-strike capabilities," French President Emmanuel Macron announced in Vilnius.
Now, the U.S. is also considering following suit, officials told the New York Times. Sending ATACMS, which have an even longer range than SCALP missiles, could tip the scales for Ukrainian forces as they wage a grueling counteroffensive in Russian-controlled territory.
U.S. defense officials warn that their ATACMS arsenal is relatively low, and that sending the weapons to Ukraine could jeopardize U.S. security interests in other areas of the world.
The Biden administration has reversed its stance on weapons donations to Ukraine before. Last week, the U.S. agreed to supply Ukraine with cluster munitions after previously refusing.
As production of ammunitions for Ukrainian defense stalls, ATACMS and other long-range weapons systems represent a way for Ukrainian forces to advance in regions where occupying Russian forces hold strong defensive positions.