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US lawmakers urge Biden to send longer-range missiles to Ukraine

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A bipartisan group of US lawmakers has urged President Joe Biden to deliver more capable US weapon systems to Ukraine, including the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

Led by Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO-06), a coalition of For Country Caucus members wrote in a letter that Russian forces have moved key assets out of the range of HIMARS missiles, necessitating a longer-range strike capability for the Ukrainians.

With a range of 199 miles (320 kilometers), the ATACMS can strike four times further than the HIMARS-launched Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, which Ukraine has deployed since last year.

Washington has refused to send the surface-to-surface ATACMS — which can be launched from the HIMARS — to Ukraine fearing Kyiv could strike targets inside the Russian territory, a potential risk of escalation.

Egged on By UK Storm Shadow Decision

Attempting to dispel the fear of aggravation, the coalition cited the example of the UK delivering Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine, which can also potentially be deployed for strikes inside Russia.

“We’re encouraged that the United Kingdom has delivered its Storm Shadow missiles to Ukraine with reported assurances from Ukrainian officials that they would only be used to attack Russian positions in Ukrainian territory,” the letter stated.

“We believe similar assurances for these systems (ATACMS) would alleviate potential concerns regarding escalation.”

The coalition also urged the administration to prioritize Ukraine’s immediate needs over “the administration’s stated desire to maintain US stockpiles for future fights,” saying Kyiv is fighting a war “with immediate and long-term US national security implications.”

The letter comes as President Biden refused to deny delivering the weapon to Ukraine.

“That’s still in play,” the president said on May 29 in reply to whether it is time for ATACMS to be delivered as Moscow stepped up attacks against Ukrainian civilian targets before the anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.

However, a White House spokesperson later clarified that the administration’s policy has not changed.

Delivery of Abrams and Fighter Jets

Apart from the ATACMS, the bipartisan coalition also urged accelerating the delivery of 31 M1A1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which are expected to arrive by the end of the year.

“We strongly urge you to do everything in your power to accelerate this timeline, whether that be through the Defense Production Act, expended contracts, or pulling from different stocks to provide Ukrainian troops the tactical equipment needed to mount their counteroffensive,” the letter said.

It also called for the delivery of additional Patriot air defense systems, apart from the one already sent, and supply or facilitate the supply of fourth-generation fighter aircraft to the country to “supplement Ukraine’s dwindling fleet of Soviet-era fighter jets.”

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