A day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met his US counterpart at the White House and secured a $325 million military aid package, news reports have claimed that Washington might deliver ATACMS long-range missiles as well to Kyiv.
Citing three US officials and a congressional official familiar with the matter, NBC News claimed President Biden told Zelensky that the US would “provide a small number of long-range missiles to aid the war with Russia”.
“The officials, who were not authorized to speak publicly, did not say when the missiles would be delivered or when a public announcement would be made,” the report added.
The development, if true, is significant as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday (September 21), ahead of the meeting between Zelensky and Biden said the US prez was not going to offer Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).
“To date, he [Biden] is determined that he would not provide ATACMS, but he has also not taken it off the table in the future,” said Sullivan.
The $325 million military package announced on the same day included air defence systems, a supply of M1 Abrams tanks and the second tranche of cluster munitions fired by a 155-millimeter Howitzer cannon but stopped short of mentioning the long-range missiles.
Notably, Zelensky had marched across the Pentagon, Capitol and the White House after delivering addresses at the UNGA and UNSC to secure the ATACMS missiles that can strike up to 300 kilometers (190 miles) away. His troops desperately want the missiles to stage a comeback against the Russians after the counteroffensive launched a few months ago appears to have not made major inroads.
What did Biden say?
During the meeting, Biden said the US remains committed to providing support in Kyiv’s efforts to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
“We’re supporting a just and lasting peace, one that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Biden.
Zelensky returned the favour by saying: “We greatly appreciate the assistance provided by the United States to combat Russian terror, really terror.”
However, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who has been a major supporter of Biden’s pro-Ukraine policies said, Zelensky told him that: “If we don’t get the aid, we will lose the war.”