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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Daniel Keane

Ukraine attacked Russia with long-range ballistic missiles secretly supplied by US

Ukraine for the first time has begun using long-range ballistic missiles, secretly provided by the United States, to attack Russian forces.

American officials said on Wednesday that Ukrainian forces had used the weapons to bomb a Russian military airfield in Crimea last week and Russian forces in another occupied area overnight.

The new missiles give Ukraine nearly double the striking power that it had with the mid-range version of the weapon that it received from the US last October.

More of the missiles will be provided as part of a new military aid package signed by President Biden on Wednesday, an anonymous US official told the Associated Press.

The supply of the Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which have a range of 300km, follows months of debate within the Biden administration over concerns that Ukraine could use them to attack targets deep inside Russia.

But Russia’s use of long-range ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea in December and January led officials to change their mind, the official said.

Videos on social media last week showed the explosions at an airfield in Crimea, but officials at the time would not confirm it was the ATACMS.

Meanwhile, Mr Biden on Wednesday signed into law a bill that will provide billions of dollars of new US aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia, which began in February 2022.

“It gives vital support to America's partners so they can defend themselves from threats to their sovereignty,” he said.

The initial aid package includes vehicles, Stinger air defense munitions, additional ammunition for high-mobility artillery rocket systems, 155mm artillery ammunition, TOW and Javelin anti-tank munitions and other weapons that can immediately be put to use on the battlefield.

Ukraine had been begging for the long-range system amid increasing Russian attacks.

Mr Biden had been pressing lawmakers for six months to approve more funding for Ukraine, despite opposition from the Republican right.

The President’s likely opponent in the November presidential election, Donald Trump, has objected to the aid.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on X that “Ukraine’s long-range capabilities, artillery and air defense are extremely important tools for the quick restoration of a just peace.”

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