With the imminent spring counter-offensive in Ukraine, the discussion about the supply of ATACMS to Kyiv has become more relevant than ever. Despite US and NATO military support, the White House remains reluctant to supply certain platforms such as the F-16 and ATACMS missiles.

US reluctant to hand over ATACMS to Ukraine

The concern is that supplying Ukraine with long-range missiles could escalate the conflict with Russia, allowing Kyiv to launch cross-border attacks on Russian soil. Another reason the White House gives is the limited availability of ATACMS in its reserves.

The recent incident in which Moscow accused Ukraine of launching a drone at the Kremlin illustrates the risk of providing Kyiv with long-range weaponry, as it could escalate the existing conflict.

Is it time to arm Ukraine with ATACMS?: Analysts debate

What are ATACMS, and why are they so powerful?

ATACMS, which stands for Army Tactical Missile System, is a type of missile developed by the United States Army. These missiles are highly effective because of a few important reasons:

  1. Long Range: ATACMS missiles can hit targets that are far away, up to 300 kilometers or 186 miles. This means they can strike deep inside enemy territory without risking the lives of soldiers.
  2. Accuracy: ATACMS missiles are designed to hit their targets with great precision. They use advanced guidance systems, like GPS or inertial navigation, to ensure they hit exactly where they should.
  3. Different Types of Warheads: Depending on the mission, these missiles can be armed with different kinds of warheads. They can carry high-explosive warheads or cluster munitions, which are smaller explosives that spread out over a larger area.
  4. Versatility: ATACMS missiles can be used against many different types of targets, like enemy bases, air defenses, command centers, and even armored vehicles. They are useful in both regular warfare and counterinsurgency operations.
  5. Quick Response: The ATACMS system allows military forces to respond rapidly to threats. They can quickly engage time-sensitive or unexpected targets, giving them an advantage in critical situations.

In summary, ATACMS missiles are powerful because they can reach far distances, hit targets accurately, carry different types of warheads, work against various targets, and respond rapidly to threats.

Is it time to arm Ukraine with ATACMS?: Analysts debate

War scene in Ukraine

With violence on the rise in Ukraine, the addition of advanced Western MBTs and other shipments of materiel could help the Kyiv counter-offensive. However, it remains uncertain whether this will be enough to thwart Russian advances in the country.

For now, the United States appears determined not to supply its long-range ATACMS munitions to Kyiv, despite rising tensions in the region.