Ukraine has a realistic chance to liberate Russian-occupied Crimea by the end of the summer if it gets long-range missiles, retired U.S. General Ben Hodges, who commanded U.S. troops in Europe, told Ukrainian publication Ukrinform on Feb. 18.
"We will do everything possible for Ukraine to win this year," he said.
In his words, the prerequisite for such a speedy liberation of the peninsula, which has been occupied by Russia since 2014, would require all partners to provide all needed weapons, especially precision-guided long-range missiles. Hodges believes that the battle for Crimea will be "decisive."
Ukraine has repeatedly asked for long-range missiles such as the U.S. ATACMS, which can strike up to 300 kilometers away. This would give Ukraine the ability to destroy Russian supplies, command posts and other critical assets parked deep behind enemy lines, which would inflict severe damage on Russia's ability to fight, Phillips O'Brien, a professor of strategic studies at St. Andrew’s University, told the Kyiv Independent.
Western allies have balked at giving Ukraine missiles with ranges that long, concerned that Ukraine would be able to fire them into Russian territory.