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Umerov holds call with Austin over ATACMS delivery

by The Kyiv Independent news desk October 21, 2023 10:03 PM 2 min read
United States Secretary of Defense LLoyd Austin (L) and new Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov attend the 15th meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at Ramstein Air Base on Sept. 19, 2023 in Ramstein-Miesenbach, Germany. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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Defense Minister Rustem Umerov thanked the U.S. leadership for delivering the long-range Army Tactical Missiles Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine during a call with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Oct. 21.

"This is having a major impact on the battlefield," Umerov said.

Ukrainian forces used U.S.-supplied ATACMS for the first time on Oct. 17 to strike Russian military airfields in occupied Berdiansk in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and Luhansk.

According to the U.K. Defense Ministry, the strikes possibly damaged nine Russian military helicopters in Berdiansk and five more in Luhansk, but the extent of damage is still unconfirmed.

Ukraine's Special Operations Forces earlier said that a total of nine helicopters were damaged in the attacks, as well as an air defense system, an ammunition warehouse, the airfields' runways, and "special equipment" stored at the premises.

If confirmed, the loss of any aircraft will be hard to replace in the short to medium term, considering the current load on the Russian military production, the ministry wrote in its latest intelligence update.

The U.S. has provided around 20 ATACMS to Ukraine, the New York Times reported on Oct. 18, citing two Western officials.

The delivery "was carried out in secrecy, out of concern that they could be attacked by Russia as they were shipped," the New York Times reported.

The news about the delivery of ATACMS was also not made public as "Ukraine wanted to try to catch the Russians off guard."

Kuleba: ATACMS deliveries to increase, ‘optimistic’ that F-16s will arrive beginning of 2024
The U.S. will keep delivering Army Tactical Missiles Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine on a consistent basis, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on the 1+1 TV channel on Oct. 19.

President Volodymyr Zelensky had long campaigned for the donation of these weapons due to their range, which would allow Ukrainian forces to strike Russian targets deep behind the front line.

However, the delivery was agreed on the condition that Ukraine would not use them to strike targets on Russian territory, one source said.

The U.S. will keep delivering ATACMS to Ukraine on a consistent basis, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on the 1+1 TV channel on Oct. 19.

He also expressed hope that future deliveries would include the newer ATACMS variations that have a range of up to 300 kilometers.

The ATACMS sent by the U.S. so far have a range of up to 165 kilometers.

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