The Biden administration is working to deliver anti-ship missiles to Ukrainian fighters to help defeat Russia's naval blockade, a move that could increase the chances of a confrontation between the United States and Russia.
Ukraine has asked for more advanced US weapons beyond its current inventory of artillery, Javelin and Stinger missiles, and other arms, according to Reuters.
The Kiev government seeks missiles that could push the Russian navy away from its Black Sea ports, allowing the restart of shipments of grain and other agricultural products worldwide.
However, current and former American officials and congressional said there are concerns that these powerful weapons could sink Russian warships and intensify the conflict.
They have pointed out obstructions to sending longer-range, more powerful weapons to Ukraine that include lengthy training requirements, difficulties maintaining equipment, or concerns US weaponry could be seized by Russian forces, Reuters reported.
However, three US officials and two congressional sources said that the US could deliver two types of powerful anti-ship missiles, the Harpoon made by Boeing (BA.N) and the Naval Strike Missile made by Kongsberg (KOG.OL) and Raytheon Technologies (RTX.N) to Ukraine. Or Washington could send them through a transfer from a European ally that has the missiles.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky in April requested Portugal to deliver the Ukrainian military Harpoons, which have a range of up to almost 300 km.
Two US officials said the United States was working on potential methods to deliver the weapons to Ukraine. Both missiles cost about $1.5 million per round, according to experts and industry executives.
According to the British defense ministry, about 20 Russian Navy vessels, including submarines, are in the Black Sea operational zone.
This comes as the US Senate on Thursday approved the new “aid” for Ukraine, which has been the site of a Russian military operation since February.
The Senate overwhelmingly gave its blessing to the monumental package, with 86 votes in favor and 11 against as Washington looks to prolong the conflict with Russia.
US officials revealed to NBC News and The New York Times that intelligence given to Kiev by the US military about the location of the Russian warship prior to the strike helped Ukrainian forces sink it in April.
However, the Pentagon's spokesman denied that the US gave Kiev military “specific targeting information” that allowed Ukrainian forces to sink a Russian warship in the Black Sea.
“We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva. We were not involved in the Ukrainians’ decision to strike the ship or in the operation they carried out,” Press Secretary John Kirby said in a statement on Thursday seemingly downplaying the US military role in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
Meantime, Russia has warned the US that providing Kiev with military aid would only exacerbate the Ukraine conflict.