Ukraine Could Employ New Weapons to Target Russian Sites in Crimea, Pentagon States
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By The Smartencyclopedia Staff & Agencies

WASHINGTON – Ukrainian forces may utilize a recently acquired, highly sought-after long-range missile system to better aim at Russian forces in occupied Crimea, senior Pentagon officials disclosed on Thursday. After months of requests, Ukraine received an extended-range variant of the Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS, capable of traveling 190 miles. Before this month’s delivery, the United States had supplied Ukraine with a version of the system boasting a 100-mile range and equipped with wide-spreading cluster munitions. Much of the long-awaited weapons deliveries would initially focus on bolstering Ukraine’s defenses, U.S. national security officials remarked. The new system can penetrate deeper into Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine and target supply hubs for Russian forces in the southeast.

The objective behind deploying the new longer-range systems is to exert more pressure on Crimea, a center for Russian air and ground forces, “where, at present, Russia has had a relative haven,” a senior defense official informed reporters during a press briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday. Pentagon officials declined to specify the exact number of long-range systems dispatched to Ukraine. The Biden administration clandestinely dispatched the longer-range ATACMS to avoid alerting the Russians. They were part of a $300 million shipment announced in March, marking the first new aid package for the country since funding ceased at the end of December. Congress approved a new round of military assistance to Ukraine earlier this week. Ukraine deployed the longer-range missiles overnight on Tuesday to strike Russian troops in the port city of Berdyansk, a senior U.S. official disclosed, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters. Social media accounts in Ukraine reported significant fires and explosions last week at a military airfield in Dzhankoi, Crimea, targeted by the long-range ATACMS, according to two U.S. officials. In an address that evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked Gen. Oleksandr Syrskyi, the top military commander, but refrained from elaborating on the attack.

“One of the things we’ve been able to see is that when Ukraine is supplied, they’ve been able to be effective,” Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, remarked during a moderated conversation at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service on Thursday. President Joe Biden’s decision in February to send over 100 of the longer-range systems to Ukraine marked a significant policy shift. His administration had previously refrained from sending them out of fear that Ukraine would use the systems to attack targets in Russia, potentially escalating the conflict. However, more than two years into Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine, Biden’s approach has changed, administration officials indicated. As Congress deliberated over another aid package for Ukraine, Ukrainian troops faced ammunition and equipment shortages and lost territory to a slow but steady Russian advance.

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