Joe Biden admits he is considering sending Ukraine long range missiles that could hit Russia

13 July 2023, 08:50 | Updated: 13 July 2023, 09:58

Ukraine could get more long range weapons
Ukraine could get more long range weapons. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Joe Biden has admitted he is considering sending Ukraine long range missiles that can travel far enough to strike Russia.

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The US president confirmed on Wednesday that his government is weighing up supplying Volodymyr Zelenskyy powerful Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS).

Washington has been hesitant to supply weapons with a greater range that could bring parts of Russia into Ukraine's crosshairs.

But ATACMS missiles, with a range of 190 miles - about 40 miles than weapons like Storm Shadow that Britain has already handed to Kyiv's military - could hit them, though the US would be unlikely to sanction that.

It has already supplied "Himars" missiles with a much longer range than conventional artillery.

Read more: Andrew Marr: Even Joe Biden thinks Ukraine joining NATO may be a step too far

Long range weapons can hit Russian headquarters and supply lines well behind the front line, which will help Ukraine in its slow-moving counter offensive.

ATACMS would have the range to hit Russian territory, as well as Crimea, the peninsula Putin annexed by force in 2014.

There have been fears of escalating the conflict if Western-supplied weapons are used to hit places in Russia.

Biden has reaffirmed American support for the war
Biden has reaffirmed American support for the war. Picture: Alamy

Ukraine is considered to be behind some drone attacks and sabotage operations that have happened in Russia, while the West has said its weapons are to be used to defend Ukraine and liberate occupied territory.

Speaking to reporters amid the Nato summit in Lithuania, Biden said an ATACMS shipment was under consideration.

But he said they have an equivalent of the missiles already and artillery munitions were more pressing.

Read more: Volodymyr Zelenskyy says he 'doesn't understand Ben Wallace's claim that Ukraine should be more 'grateful' to NATO

"What we need most of all is artillery shells. We're in short supply, but we're working on that. They seem very satisfied with everything we're doing," he said.

The UK has already sent Storm Shadow missiles which were reportedly used in the Donbas.

Targets for such long range missiles could be hit in Crimea, a peninsula that is held dear by many Russians.

It is one of Putin's prized assets and there has been speculation Ukraine will try to isolate it and take it back.

Joe Biden said he is considering sending Atacms
Joe Biden said he is considering sending Atacms. Picture: Alamy

That could be achieved by cutting off Russian forces from their comrades on the mainland by retaking territory in occupied south-east Ukraine, and by using long range missiles to destroy a bridge built by Moscow over the Kerch strait.

Nato members did not give Ukraine a longed-for promise of future membership. There is speculation instead it could get an Israeli-style security deal.

Although Ukraine did not manage to secure a future position in the defensive alliance, there did not appear to be any serious cracks in the group's support for its fight against Russia.

Biden said: "Russia could end this war tomorrow by withdrawing his forces from Ukraine."

ATACMS have the range to hit Russia
ATACMS have the range to hit Russia. Picture: Alamy

He went on: "Putin still wrongly believes that he can outlast Ukraine. He can't believe it's their land, their country and their future and even after all this time, Putin still doubts our staying power. He is still making a bad bet.

"When Russian bombs began to fall, we did not hesitate to act. We rallied the world support the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their liberty and their sovereignty.

"When Putin, and his craven lust for land and power, unleashed his brutal war on Ukraine, he was betting NATO would break apart. He thought NATO would break.

"He thought our unity would shatter at the first testing. He thought democratic leaders would be weak. But he thought wrong."