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US senators: 'Not sending ATACMS to Ukraine will only prolong war'

by Asami Terajima September 17, 2023 3:43 PM 2 min read
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U.S. senators Tom Cotton, Roger Wicker, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to send Ukraine MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).

"Additional delay will only further undermine U.S. national security interests and extend this conflict," the Republican senators' letter read, stressing that Washington can send the long-requested weapons "without any appreciable risk to its own combat capability."

"Providing ATACMS would enable Ukraine to strike key Russian logistics and communications targets as well as cruise missile and drone launch sites within Russian-occupied Ukraine," it continued.

The senators' urgent call comes as Kyiv continues to plead for longer-range weapons, including ATACMS, to bolster its capability to strike Russian military targets in occupied territories.

Targets for ATACMS can be command posts, missile launchers, air defense systems, communication centers, and fuel warehouses deep behind the Russian defense line, and it can launch attacks at any time of the day – regardless of the weather.

Recently, emerging Western media reports citing anonymous officials have hinted that Ukraine's long quest for ATACMS may not be that far off.

ABC News reported on Sept. 9 that two unnamed U.S. officials signaled that Washington could approve the delivery of ATACMS to Ukraine rather soon, with one of them saying that "they are coming" though the plans could change until the official announcement.

The second official said ATACMS is "on the table" and may be part of the U.S.' upcoming security aid package, adding that it could take months before the missiles arrive in Ukraine, according to ABC News.

ATACMS can strike targets 300 kilometers (190 miles) away. While the U.K. and France have delivered long-range Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, which have a range of more than 250 kilometers (155 miles), the U.S. has so far not given the green light for ATACMS.

In the letter addressed to Biden, the senators said "Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously approved an amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act urging the Department of Defense to consider sending long-range missiles to Ukraine."

"Delay will only cost more lives and prolong the conflict," the letter reads.

The senators say that the request is urgent since there have been reports that there may be just over 30 days of fighting season left for Ukraine to wage its costly counteroffensive.

Earlier in September, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that Ukraine likely has about 30 to 45 days for the counteroffensive before the weather worsens on the ground.

"We urge you to authorize the immediate shipment of ATACMS to Ukraine," the senators said.

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