WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden informed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that Washington will supply Kiev with long-range ATACMS missiles, NBC News reported on Friday, citing three U.S. officials and a congressional official.
Kiev has repeatedly asked the Biden administration for the Army’s Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to help attack and disrupt supply lines, air bases and rail networks in Russian-occupied territory.
But the White House revealed no decisions on ATACMS when Zelenskiy visited Washington on Thursday for talks with Biden, even as he announced a new $325 million military aid package for Kiev.
The White House and Pentagon declined to comment on the NBC report. The Pentagon also declined to say whether any ATACMS promises were made to Zelenskiy during his meetings Thursday at the Pentagon, saying: “Regarding ATACMS we have nothing to announce.”
In Ottawa, Zelenskiy did not directly answer a question about the NBC report, but noted that the United States is Ukraine’s largest arms supplier.
“We are discussing all different types of weapons: long-range weapons and artillery, artillery shells of 155 mm caliber, then air defense systems,” Zelenskiy said, speaking through an interpreter, at a news conference during a visit official in Canada.
“We have an in-depth discussion and work with the United States at different levels,” he said.
RockedBuzz via Reuters previously reported that the Biden administration was considering shipping ATACMS that can fly up to 190 miles (306 km) to Ukraine.
ATACMS are designed to “deep attack second-tier enemy forces,” a U.S. Army website says, and could be used to attack command and control centers, air defenses and logistics sites well behind the front line.
Biden publicly assured Zelenskiy on Thursday that strong U.S. support for his war to repel Russian invaders will be maintained despite opposition from some Republican lawmakers to sending billions more in aid.
Zelenskiy thanked Biden on Thursday for the latest weapons package, including air defenses, saying it “has exactly what our soldiers need now.”
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Jeff Mason in Washington and David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer in Ottawa; additional reporting by Rami Ayyb; editing by Timothy Gardner)