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A military vehicle which can fire the ATACMS long-range missiles. (File image) Alamy

United States sent long-range missiles to Ukraine in secret February supply delivery

A spokesperson for the US State Department said it did not share the information to protect operational security.

THE UNITED STATES secretly sent long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine for use inside its territory, and the weapons arrived in the country this month, the American State Department said yesterday.

A spokesperson for the department confirmed the country had sent the missiles to Ukraine last month after a statement confirmed that the first weapons package out of the newly-approved military aid was announced.

The Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) were part of a March aid package for Ukraine. It was not the $60 billion package which was just approved by Congress and signed by Biden yesterday.

The spokesperson, Vedant Patel, told reporters that the State Department not to share this information earlier at Ukraine’s request, to protect operational security. They added that the US President Joe Biden had given the direction to send the powerful weapons.

Some ATACMS missiles can hit targets up to 300 kilometers away, and a Defense Department spokesperson confirmed that was the long-range variant supplied to Ukraine, but for use inside its territory.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the United States plans to send more of the long-range missiles to Ukraine.

Screenshot 2024-04-25 084605 State Department Vedant Patel confirmed the missiles had been sent to Ukraine.

A separate package being sent to Kyiv, announced yesterday, includes air defense missiles, ammunition, artillery rounds, armored vehicles, precision aerial munitions, anti-armor weapons, small arms, equipment, and spare parts.

“We are sending a powerful message today about the power of American leadership as we support Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression,” a statement from the State Department said.

“The United States will continue to work with the coalition of more than 50 countries we have assembled to provide critical support for Ukraine’s forces.”

The continued support was echoed by Biden yesterday after he signed the bill which will grant Ukraine the multi-billion dollar military aid packages. The President said that the first shipments of aid were to be sent to Ukraine within hours of him signing the bill.

“It’s going to make America safer, it’s going to make the world safter and it continues American leadership in the world and everyone knows it,” Biden said of the legislation.

“It gives vital support to America’s partners so they can defend themselves against threats to their sovereignty and to the lives and freedoms of their citizens.”

Independent Senator Tom Clonan, writing in The Journal’s Voices section, said the funding will provide a “much needed shot in the arm for the defence of Ukraine”.

Clonan added that Ireland must be a “strong voice for peace and reconciliation” as global fighting intensifies.

“As the world arms itself, Ireland needs be a strong voice for peace. However, as events in Ukraine and the Middle East have demonstrated, we can only effectively advocate for peace, justice and our own interests from a position of self-reliance, strength and security,” Clonan writes.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2024

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