Once approved by US President Joe Biden, the Pentagon will send tactical ballistic missiles, armed with cluster munitions, to Ukraine.
Citing the army’s top weapons buyer, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the Pentagon is poised to send some of its Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) armed with cluster munitions to Ukraine.
The US military “has been postured for this eventuality for a while,” Army Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Doug Bush said. “We’re ready to go fast.”
“We’re ready when and if the president decides to do this.”
US lawmakers have long been calling for Biden to send the missile system to Ukraine. Officials in the White House were reluctant as the country’s own stockpile is limited.
According to people familiar with the matter, NBC reported last month that Biden told Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky in a private meeting that a small number of the weapons would be transferred to his country.
Ukraine has been asking for ATACMS for months.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Kiev will commit not to target Russian territory with the missiles.
Fired from a mobile launcher, ATACMS can hit targets up to 300 kilometers away, allowing Ukrainian forces to strike far beyond the front lines.
There are several versions of the missiles, including ones that carry cluster munitions or regular warheads. They carry between 300 to 950 cluster munitions.
The cluster bombs, prohibited by more than 100 countries, can contain dozens of smaller bomblets, dispersing over vast areas, often killing and maiming civilians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned Kiev against using the weapons, saying that Moscow had a "sufficient stockpile" of the weapons and that it "reserved the right" to use them "if they are used against us."