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Scott Ritter: ATACMS – The Latest American Poison Pill for Ukraine

© WikipediaATACMS Army Tactical Missile System
ATACMS Army Tactical Missile System - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.09.2023
Sputnik brings you the latest insights from Scott Ritter – former US Marine intel officer and UN weapons inspector – where he explains why ATACMS will not affect the course of the special military operation and will not be a wunderwaffe for Ukrainian troops.
Back in July 2022, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, pushing back against increasing demands from Ukraine and its American backers in Congress, the State Department, and the Pentagon that the Biden administration provide Ukraine with the Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, declared that providing Ukraine with this weapon would risk putting the US and Russia on “the road towards a third world war.”
Ukraine had been demanding that the ATACMS, a 300-kilometer range solid-fuel guided missile, be included in the list of weapons Ukraine claimed it needed to successfully execute its much-touted “counteroffensive.” Now, with the “counteroffensive”, which has been underway for more than three months, floundering in the face of a Russian defense that had proven more capable than originally thought by the NATO military planners who helped the Ukrainians craft it, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, suddenly announced that the Biden administration was considering reversing course on the issue of providing Ukraine with ATACMS. Left unsaid was to what extent, if any, the Biden administration had addressed the issue of a third world war with Russia, and whether the ATACMS was still considered to be a likely trigger for its initiation.
ATACMS Block 1A variant cross-section. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.05.2023
What are ATACMS Missiles and Why is US Threatening to Give Them to Kiev?
One theory that is making its way around Washington, DC, is that the Biden administration, after successive arms procurement decisions (HIMARS, the M-1 Abrams, and the F-16) appeared to cross so-called Russian “red lines” without generating any appreciable Russian reaction, believed that the Russians would likewise allow the introduction of the ATACMS to take place without provoking a crisis akin to a third world war. The underlying analysis for this assessment is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is bluffing when it comes to the so-called “red lines”, and that the US can provide Ukraine the weapons it needs to successfully prosecute its stalled counteroffensive.
There are two major problems with this assessment. First, it makes certain assumptions about Russia’s so-called “red lines”, and the consequences which would accrue to Ukraine and its Western partners if these lines were crossed. Russia has, to date, only articulated two definitive “red lines” when it comes to the ongoing Special Military Operation against Ukraine. The first is the direct involvement of US and/or NATO forces in the conflict, whether by putting boots on the ground in Ukraine, or intervening in Belarus. The second was any military situation which threatened the existential survival of the Russian nation. In both circumstances, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has decreed that Russia would use all the means at its disposal to respond to the threat, up to and including nuclear weapons. All other so-called “red lines” are speculative in nature, made by persons other than the President.
A Ukrainian soldier stands in the fields at the village of Berezovka, Ukraine, Thursday, April 21, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.09.2023
'They Don't Want to Die Pointless Death': Why Ukrainian Troops Increasingly Surrender
Second, it assumes that the ATACMS is a game-changing technology whose presence on the battlefield will have a meaningful and telling impact on the ability of the Ukrainian armed forces to prevail in combat against their Russia foes. The ATACMS is a 50-year-old system which the US Army stopped buying in 2007. While the ATACMS has been the beneficiary of a Service Life Extension Program designed to keep the missile from failing once launched due to old age, it remains an aging system with limited capabilities.
If employed by Ukraine, the ATACMS will find itself targeted by Russian anti-missile weapons that will intercept the rocket prior to reaching its target and jam the guidance systems using electronic-warfare capabilities considered to be among the most effective in the world. There is no doubt that an ATACMS missile is capable of inflicting considerable harm and damage on any target it can strike. But the reality is that most of the ATACMS missiles will be shot down before they reach their target, a fact the military planners in the Pentagon are only too aware of. In short, ATACMS is the antithesis of a “magic” weapon designed to strengthen Ukrainian military capacity. It is, like every US weapons system that preceded it, a poison pill, doomed to destroy all who consume it.
The issue at hand isn’t Russian weakness or lack of fortitude, but rather American fickleness which, when combined with a strategy that has always been about inflicting the maximum amount of harm on Russia with the least amount of risk to the US when it comes to American and NATO casualties. In short, the decisions made by the United States regarding the provision of military equipment have been done with a strong domestic political aspect, driven by pressures accrued from within the US establishment that is generated by Ukrainian “needs” that are dictated more by the need to appease their Western masters than generate war-winning capacity. ATACMS, like HIMARS, the M-1, and the F-16, are simply the equivalent of candy sprinkles spread on top of the self-licking ice cream cone that is US military support to Ukraine.
Missing in this equation are the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men who have been maimed and killed because of this craven American posture, and the millions of Ukrainian lives that have been displaced and disrupted because of an American strategy that seeks to inflict harm on Russia “to the last Ukrainian.” American politicians and pundits gloat that the US policy has been a success, given the number of Russian casualties that have been inflicted simply by spending money. But no one talks about the Ukrainian dead, the Ukrainian wounded, the Ukrainian victims, because in the US and Europe, the Ukrainian people simply do not count. They are resources to be expended as casually as the dollars and euros allocated by the so-called principled representatives of western democracy. The possible provision of ATACMS to Ukraine is merely the most recent manifestation of the inhumanity when it comes to the slaughter of Slavs—Ukrainian and Russian alike—in a conflict conceived, facilitated, and sustained by the so-called Collective West.
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