DoD Fears Giving Kiev Long-Range Missiles May Provoke War After Moscow’s ‘Red Lines’ Warning: Report
16:10 GMT 17.09.2022 (Updated: 17:06 GMT 20.04.2023)
Moscow has repeatedly called on the US and its NATO allies to stop arming Ukraine, warning that the weapons deliveries threaten to escalate the conflict. The Russian military has accused Kiev of using Western-sourced armaments indiscriminately against civilians.
Senior Pentagon officials petitioned the White House to scrap plans to deliver a long-range missile system to Ukraine over fears that sending it could provoke a major escalation with Russia, CNBC News has reported, citing two military officials said to be familiar with the matter.
Officials at the Department of Defense reportedly expressed concerns that sending Ukraine the requested MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) – which has an effective firing range of 300+ km, “could be used against targets inside Russian territory.”
Consequently, they indicated, sending the system could “potentially set off a wider war with Russia.”
Moscow has repeatedly warned the US not to send the ATACMS, which can be fired using M270 MLRS and M142 HIMARS mobile rocket launch systems already being used by the Ukrainian military, to Kiev.
“If Washington decides to supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles, it will cross a red line, becoming directly involved in the conflict. We reserve the right to defend our territory by any means available,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.
On Wednesday, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov told Sputnik that “if Kiev obtains such weapons, large Russian cities, as well as industrial and transport infrastructure facilities will fall into the area of possible destruction. Such a scenario would mean direct involvement of the United States in a military confrontation with Russia.”
Kiev’s request to obtain the long-range strike system was first reported on Monday.
The White House announced a package of $600 million in new military assistance to Kiev on Thursday, including ammunition for HIMARS, 155mm artillery shells, mines, radar equipment, anti-drone systems, and cold weather gear. But ATACMS were not listed among the new aid.
The US and its allies used ATACMS during the Persian Gulf War, and the US-led wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s and 2010s. Along with the US, the system is operated by Greece, Turkey, Romania, South Korea, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.
The United States and its allies have delivered more than $34 billion in military equipment since January, equivalent to well over half of Russia’s $66 billion military budget in 2021.
Last month, ex-Trump Pentagon advisor Douglas Macgregor warned that funneling more weapons systems to Kiev would escalate the conflict and cause irreparable damage to Ukraine itself, but wouldn’t change the strategic outcome of the conflict.
“Even if NATO’s European members, together with Washington, DC, provided Ukrainian troops with a new avalanche of weapons, and it arrived at the front instead of disappearing into the black hole of Ukrainian corruption, the training and tactical leadership required to conduct complex offensive operations does not exist inside Ukraine’s 700,000-man army,” Macgregor wrote.