O The US State Department confirmed that the long-range Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, was sent to Ukraine “this month”, even before Congress’ approval on Tuesday of a new aid package for Kyiv .

The shipment was made “at the direct request of President” Joe Biden in February, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, adding that the missiles, which were part of the latest aid package sent to Ukraine on March 12, ” arrived in Ukraine this month.”

The inclusion of the missiles in this March package had not been announced at that time “to maintain operational security for Ukraine, at its request,” the Washington-based spokesman said.

The new missiles have long been desired by Ukraine, as these weapons allow almost double the attack distance (up to 300 kilometers) that it had with the medium-range version of the weapon it received from the US last October, according to the agency AP.

The White House had already approved the delivery of ATACMS in early March, and the US has included a significant number of these weapons in previous military aid packages.

Due to the delay in approving a new US military aid package, Ukraine has been forced to ration its weapons and faces increasing Russian attacks.

Ukraine has been asking for long-range systems, saying the missiles provide a critical capability to strike Russian targets that are further away, allowing Ukrainian forces to remain out of range of Russian weapons.

Information about the delivery of these missiles was kept so secret that congressmen demanded, in recent days, that the US send the weapons, without knowing that many were already in Ukraine.

For months, the US resisted sending long-range missiles to Ukraine, fearing that Kyiv could use them to reach deep into Russian territory, which could escalate the conflict in eastern Europe.

That was one of the main reasons why the Pentagon sent the medium-range version, with a range of around 160 kilometers, in October.

So far, Ukrainian authorities have not publicly acknowledged the receipt or use of long-range ATACMS.

However, when thanking the US Congress for approving the new military aid bill on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said, in a message on the social network X, that “the long-range capabilities, the Ukraine’s artillery and air defense are extremely important tools for the rapid restoration of a just peace.”

“The key now is speed,” Zelensky said, calling for the rapid arrival on the ground of equipment that Kyiv expects to receive in the coming weeks and months.

Last year, the US Government warned Russia that if Moscow acquired and used long-range ballistic missiles in Ukraine, Washington would provide the same capability to Kyiv.

Russia obtained some of these weapons from North Korea and used them on the battlefield in Ukraine, which led the White House to give the green light to the new long-range missiles.

Still, at the time, the US refused to confirm that the long-range missiles had been delivered to Ukraine until they were actually used on the battlefield and Kyiv leaders approved public release.

[Notícia atualizada às 20h15]

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Source: https://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/2547889/kyiv-usa-armas-de-longo-alcance-enviadas-secretamente-pelos-eua

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