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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Warren Murray with Guardian writers and agencies

Ukraine war briefing: Long-range Atacms already hitting Russian forces

Atacms missile testing at White Sands in New Mexico.
Atacms missile testing at White Sands in New Mexico. Photograph: John Hamilton/AP
  • Atacms long-ranges missiles capable of hitting targets 300km away had already arrived in Ukraine this month at the president’s direction, before the US security package was passed by Congress on Wednesday, the state department has said. Vedant Patel, a state department spokesperson, explained that the weapons were part of a March aid package for Ukraine – not the one just approved by Congress and signed by Joe Biden. “We did not announce this at the onset in order to maintain operational security for Ukraine at their request.”

  • Ukraine has begun using the long-range Atacms, bombing a Russian military airfield in Crimea last week and Russian forces in another occupied area in recent days, two US officials have told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity. One of them said the Biden administration previously warned Russia that if it used long-range ballistic missiles in Ukraine, Washington would provide the same capability to the Ukrainians. Russia has since done so.

  • Separately, Adm Christopher Grady, vice-chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, told the Associated Press that long-range weapons would help Ukraine take out Russian logistics and troop concentrations behind the frontlines. He explained how the decision to supply them was considered carefully and at length. “I think the time is right, and the boss [Biden] made the decision the time is right to provide these based on where the fight is right now.”

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister has praised US politicians for approving the long-delayed $61bn military aid package for Ukraine, but said western allies needed to recognise that “the era of peace in Europe is over” and that Kyiv would inevitably need more help to fight off Russia, Dan Sabbagh and Luke Harding write from Kyiv.

  • Ukraine has stopped issuing new passports at offices abroad to some military-aged male citizens, according to legislation published on Wednesday, as part of measures to push them to return home amid manpower shortages in the army. The announcement came a day after the suspension of consular services for men aged 18 to 60 living abroad until the new law on mobilisation is implemented. Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the passport suspension applied only to new applications and that any requests previously submitted would be honoured.

  • In Warsaw, Poland, hundreds of Ukrainians crowded outside a closed passport office in a confused scene. There was anger among those who felt they were being unfairly targeted. “This is a fight against people who are fleeing the army,” said Maksym, a 38-year-old truck driver. “We are not asked on what grounds we went abroad … Why am I a draft dodger if I went abroad legally?” Ukraine’s ambassador to Poland, Vasyl Zvarych, told AFP that “all applications submitted to the consular offices of Ukraine before April 23 … will be processed in full and passport documents will be issued to such people”.

  • Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said a group of Ukrainian children were “in Qatar for medical, mental, and social recovery”, after Russia claimed an exchange of displaced children was taking place. “All of them had previously been forcibly deported to Russia, but thanks to our friendly Qatar’s mediation efforts, they have been released,” said Zelenskiy, without addressing Russia’s claim that 48 children were involved in an exchange. Russia’s children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, who is wanted for war crimes by the international criminal court, claimed Russia was handing over 29 children to Ukraine and 19 were going to Russia.

  • Ukrainian drones attacked oil facilities in western Russia, defence sources in Kyiv confirmed on Wednesday. Officials in the western Russian regions of Smolensk and Lipetsk first announced the attacks, blaming Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles for starting fires at energy sites. Another drone attack targeted the Lipetsk region further south, which houses metallurgical and pharmaceutical sites, governor Igor Artamonov said. Russian forces hit a Ukrainian drone production facility and a Ukrainian army fuel depot, Russia’s defence ministry said on Wednesday.

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