Currently, with Zelensky in New York and soon to arrive Washington, the big question remains whether the Biden administration will grant him something that has long topped Ukraine's wish list: the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS.
Fox News Pentagon correspondent Lucas Tomlinson says it's looking like the White House is set against it, for now at least. His sources told him the following:
Ukraine will not get ATACMS, the 190-mile-range tactical ballistic missiles, urgently requested by Zelensky to destroy Russian forces in Crimea and other Russian-held territory ‘anytime soon,’ officials say. News comes one day before Zelensky visits Biden at the White House.
But nothing is certain, and there are other publications suggesting Biden is ready to approve these long-range guided missiles, which would have the potential of striking deep into Russian territory.
In a Wednesday report, The Atlantic Council notes, "On background and on the record, commentators and administration officials over the past two months have been all over the map, at times expressing disappointment and concern with Ukraine’s progress, but also suggesting that there have been increasing gains and that the prospect of a breakthrough is growing."
The prevailing thinking goes that if Ukraine shows more progress, it will be politically easier for the West to provide more weapons at a faster rate. Yet Kiev has complained that it can't make quicker progress unless it first has these more advanced weapons.
Ukraine will not get ATACMS, the 190-mile-range tactical ballistic missiles, urgently requested by Zelensky to destroy Russian forces in Crimea and other Russian-held territory ‘anytime soon,’ officials say. News comes one day before Zelensky visits Biden at the White House.— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) September 20, 2023
The Atlantic Council alludes to this state of things based on battlefield setbacks in the following:
These varying assessments have a surreal element. Given the months Moscow had to prepare its defenses for the Ukrainian assault, and the ongoing reluctance of the White House to provide the more advanced weapons Ukraine needs to increase the odds of success (F-16s and the long-range fires such as Army Tactical Missile Systems—ATACMS), a major Ukrainian advance that would break Moscow’s land supply corridor to Crimea was not likely. This means that the hand-wringing over the missing breakthrough was not grounded in sound military analysis or fact.
But whether it's NATO, or Kiev, or the think tanks... there's one thing they can all agree on:
Good news for some people: https://t.co/9ThRRCALqn— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 20, 2023
All of his sets up the further dilemma - that if the White House approves the ATACMS or other long-range missiles, it means this advanced system is being handed over to the losing side.
Rather than lead to frontline breakthroughs, it would only escalate the potential for NATO and Russia being sucked into a direct clash. This as Ukraine has clearly shown a willingness to launch cross-border attacks on Russian cities with anything it has in its arsenal.