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Putin calls ATACMS transfer to Ukraine 'mistake,' admits missiles pose 'additional threat'

by Martin Fornusek October 18, 2023 3:15 PM 3 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his press conference at the Third Belt and Road Forum on October 18, 2023, in Beijing, China. (Contributor/Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Oct. 18 that the U.S. made a "great mistake" by providing Ukraine with ATACMS long-range missiles, which have reportedly dealt significant damage to Russian forces in a recent attack.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, where the Russian dictator arrived for the Belt and Road Forum, Putin admitted that the newly provided weaponry creates an "additional threat" to Russian forces.

However, the Kremlin's leader voiced confidence that the Russian military would be capable of repelling ATACMS strikes and that the long-range missiles were "fundamentally incapable of changing the situation" at the front.

According to Putin, the provision of ATACMS to Kyiv was a mistake as it would supposedly lead only to "prolonging the agony" of Ukrainians.

"And finally, a greater mistake, which is not yet apparent but very important, is that the United States is increasingly drawn into this conflict," Putin said.

After months of hesitation, the White House confirmed on Oct. 17 that it had provided Ukraine with the much-desired ATACMS.

The announcement was made shortly after Ukrainian forces reportedly used the U.S.-supplied long-range missiles to destroy nine helicopters, an air defense system, an ammunition warehouse, and airfield infrastructure in occupied Luhansk and Berdiansk.

Putin also said on Oct. 18 that Russian warplanes armed with Kinzhal missiles will begin regularly patrolling the Black Sea.

"On my instructions, the Russian Air Force begins regular patrols in the neutral zone over the Black Sea. Our MiG-31 aircraft are armed with Kinzhal weapon systems," he said.

Kinzhal air-launched ballistic missiles, with a speed of up to 12,000 kilometers per hour, have been used in the past in strikes against Ukraine.

Ukrainian forces managed to shoot down several of these hypersonic missiles using U.S.-supplied Patriot air defenses.

Ukraine uses ATACMS for first time in strikes on Russian forces in Luhansk, Berdiansk
Ukraine struck Russian forces in Luhansk and Berdiansk with U.S.-supplied long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), marking their first usage on the battlefield.

Putin also claimed during the conference that Ukraine is considering opening "some kinds of negotiations" with Moscow.

"Even the people in charge of (Ukraine's) foreign policy, who very recently said that it is necessary to inflict a strategic defeat to Russia on the battlefield, are now talking in a very different tone and say that these problems must be solved through peace negotiations," Putin said during the press conference.

"This is a change in the right direction... and I commend it, but it is not enough, as concrete steps are needed," he said, adding that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's decree prohibiting negotiations must be canceled.

Zelensky signed a decree in October last year prohibiting negotiations with Putin but leaving the door open for talks with "another president of Russia."

Last week, Zelensky told The Economist that it is currently a "bad moment" for starting negotiations with Moscow and stressed that the war will continue "as long as Russia remains on Ukrainian territory."

Borrell calls on China to back Ukraine’s peace formula, sway Russia toward peace
“This war has to finish. And in order to finish the war, there have to be negotiations for peace,” the EU’s top diplomat said at a joint press conference with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
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