Ukraine Uses Missiles Secretly Provided By US To Hit Targets In Russian-Held Areas

Ukraine used long-range ballistic missiles secretly provided by the United States in recent weeks to hit targets held by Russians. Kyiv has used the missiles twice, news agency Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing US officials. As per the officials, the missiles were contained in a $300 million military aid package for Ukraine that US President Joe Biden approved in March. The officials, however, did not provide any information about how many of the missiles were sent.

The missiles were first used last week, in the early hours of April 17. They were launched against a Russian airfield in Crimea that was about 165 km from the Ukrainian front lines, the officials said, as reported by Reuters. The officials also said that Ukraine used the weapon for the second time overnight against Russian forces in southeastern Ukraine.

The missiles were long sought by the leaders in Kyiv. They give Ukraine nearly double the striking distance of up to 300 kilometres that it had with the mid-range version of the weapon that it received from the U.S. last October, as reported by news agency AP. 

According to officials, Washington has provided more of these missiles in a new military aid package signed by Joe Biden on Wednesday, as reported by AP. The US Senate voted overwhelmingly to provide a USD 95.3 billion aid package to Ukraine and Israel and to strengthen the security of America and its allies in the Indo-Pacific, including Taiwan.

The final approval on Tuesday night by the Senate also drew curtains on months of uncertainty about whether Washington would continue to provide its support to Kyiv in its fight against Russian aggression.

The US President gave his approval for the delivery of the long-range Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, in February, and then in March, the U.S. included a “significant” number of them in a $300 million aid package, the officials said, AP reported.

The US showed some resistance in sending Ukraine the long-range missiles out of concern that Kyiv could use them to hit deep into Russian territory, which may further escalate the conflict. As per US officials, Russia’s acquisition and use of long-range ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea against Ukraine in December and January, despite warnings from Washington, led to a change of heart, Reuters reported.

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