Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that the United States could be prolonging the war in Ukraine after it was reported that Washington had supplied Kyiv with the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
“Firstly, this of course causes harm and creates an additional threat. Secondly, we will of course be able to repel these attacks. War is war,” Putin said.
“But most importantly, it fundamentally lacks the capacity to change the situation on the line of contact at all … This is another mistake by the United States,” the Kremlin chief added.
Putin’s comments came a day after it was reported that the U.S. had secretly provided Kyiv with the long-range ATACMS. Images of the missiles’ submunitions within Ukraine circulated on social media, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the United States.
“Today, I am especially grateful to the United States. Our agreements with President Biden are being implemented. They are being implemented very accurately – the ATACMS have proven themselves,” Zelensky said in his daily address.
On Tuesday, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson confirmed in a statement that “The United States recently provided Ukraine with a type of ATACMS capable of ranging out to 165 km as part of our ongoing support for the people of Ukraine as they defend their territory against Russia’s brutal invasion. We believe this will provide a significant boost to Ukraine’s battlefield capabilities without risking our military readiness.”
Ukraine has reportedly already employed the ATACMS against Russian forces. The weapons may have already allowed Ukrainian forces to strike the Russian-controlled Berdyansk and Luhansk airfields in eastern Ukraine.
Via a post to X – the social media platform formerly known as Twitter – the Ukrainian military claimed to have destroyed several Russian helicopters, an ammunition depot, and an air defense launcher. Though it was implied the ATACMS may have been used, the post didn’t state it directly.
However, as part of the Ukrainian Special Forces’ “Operation Dragonfly,” Kyiv further claimed to have also successfully damaged airfield runways, and caused significant damage to the ammunition depots.
“The ammunition depot in Berdyansk detonated until 4 a.m. The detonation in Luhansk continued until 11 a.m. Losses in the enemy’s manpower amount to dozens of dead and wounded. Bodies are still being pulled from the rubble,” Ukrainian Special Operations Forces said in a statement, per Politico.com.
Aiding Ukraine – Will it Escalate the War?
President Joe Biden had been hesitant to provide the ATACMS over a fear that it could escalate the conflict, but there has been speculation the administration changed course following the slow pace of Ukraine’s long-anticipated counteroffensive.
It largely failed to secure a breakthrough, and with colder weather setting in, the lines could become static again. The ATACMS could allow Kyiv to take some ground before winter.
Yet, Moscow has made clear that the sending of Western-supplied hardware to Ukraine could result in an escalation of the war.
“A mistake of a larger scale, as yet invisible but still of great importance, is that the United States is becoming more and more personally drawn into this conflict,” Putin said on Wednesday. “And let no one say that they have nothing to do with this. We believe they do.”
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.