The possibility that the U.S. will send to Ukraine long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) could be a game changer for Kyiv’s goal of retaking Crimea, former U.S. General Ben Hodges has said.
He told Global Defense Corp: “Crimea is the decisive terrain of this war, so isolating it and then making it untenable are the two necessary steps that lead to its liberation.”
ABC News cited an unnamed U.S. official as saying that the weapons were coming. Another official said the system was on the table and likely to be included in an upcoming U.S. security package for Kyiv, although a final decision had not been made. Newsweek has been unable to verify these claims. We have contacted the U.S. State Department for comment via its request form.
ATACMS have a range of up to 190 miles and would allow Ukrainian forces to reach targets much further away than rockets from the U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and M270 multiple-launch rocket systems.
Hodges, a retired Lieutenant General, was the former commanding general of the United States Army Europe. He is among military figures who have repeatedly called for Washington to provide Kyiv with long-range systems to enable it to retake Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014.
The systems could be used to hit command and control, logistics hubs, especially ammunition facilities, and air bases on the peninsula. Kyiv has said it wanted to recapture Crimea as part of its war aims.
Hodges wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that if the ABC report was true and if Germany agreed to provide its Taurus cruise missiles, “Ukraine will soon make Crimea untenable for Russian forces, especially Black Sea Fleet. Sevastopol, Saky, Dzankoy all easily within range.”
Washington has held back providing ATACMS as it balances concerns about how to supply military assistance to Ukraine without escalating the conflict started by Moscow. However, the U.K. and France have sent comparable Storm Shadow missiles.
President Joe Biden hinted in May that the prospect of Ukraine getting ATACMS was still in play.
In July, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that Biden had spoken with his Ukrainian counterpart about providing the weapons and that “whether or not we ultimately give ATACMS will be a decision for the president.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in August that Kyiv’s forces would deploy long-range missiles, such as ATACMS, only within its own borders.
It comes as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a new $1 billion military aid package for Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kyiv this week.
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