Ukraine used secretly supplied US missiles to hit Russian targets

The U.S. has already provided long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.

President Biden in February directed officials to supply the longer-range versions of the ATACMS, which have been long requested by Ukraine to strike at Russian targets deep behind enemy lines.

These ATACMS were first provided in a $300 million package announced on March 12 and arrived in Ukraine in April, the Pentagon official said.

“We did not announce that we were providing Ukraine with this new capability at the time in order to maintain operational security for Ukraine at their request,” they wrote in an email.

Ukraine has already used the ATACMS to bomb a Russian airfield in Crimea and a Russian-occupied region of eastern Ukraine, according to The Associated Press.

The news comes the same day Biden signed into law a national security package that includes roughly $61 billion for Ukraine. The Biden administration also announced an additional $1 billion package for Kyiv on Wednesday.

The Biden administration previously supplied Ukraine with older versions of ATACMS, but the best version of the weapon system can strike targets up to 190 miles away — making them highly valuable to strike at Russian logistical hubs or strategic military points.

ATACMS have long been on the wish list for Ukraine, even as they have gotten similar long-range artillery from European partners, including Storm Shadow missiles from the U.K.

Congress pushed the Biden administration to include the long-range versions in previous weapons packages, but the secret shipments already sent to Ukraine appear to have eluded even lawmakers in Congress who have called for the ATACMS.

The Pentagon spokesperson said that until recently, the administration was “unable to provide long-range ATACMS to Ukraine because of readiness concerns.”

“But behind the scenes, the administration has been working relentlessly to address these concerns,” the spokesperson said. “We have new ATACMS coming off the production line and being transferred into military stocks, and, as a result, we were able to move forward with this provision of ATACMS while also maintaining the current readiness of our armed forces.”

The spokesperson added that Biden directed his team to provide the ATACMS after North Korea supplied ballistic missiles to Russia for use in Ukraine and while Russian forces continued to pummel Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

“The ATACMS will help Ukraine deny Russia safe haven anywhere in occupied Ukrainian territory,” the spokesperson explained. “Together with the significant aid package the president approved today, they will provide an important boost to Ukraine, which has been on the defensive for months.”

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.