The Washington Post has reported that the US is close to giving Kyiv long-range ATACMS missiles that have a 200-mile range and which the Biden Administration has so far withheld from the conflict because it sees them as too escalatory, among other reasons.
However, following the lack of a major Russian response from an increasing number of strikes inside Russian territory and Crimea carried out by drones, the White House is considering giving into Zelenskyy’s pining for weapons to strike Russian cities and supply nodes with.
The Army Tactical Missle System, or ATACMS, can be fired from the HIMARS rocket artillery platform that Kyiv received last year, but which has so far been firing munitions with a limitation of 50 miles.
A year ago last week, Kremlin spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the Russian government viewed any longer-range missiles as a ”red line” and they would make the US “a party to the conflict”.
Another report by the Post in July claimed that Defense Dept. officials felt that any talks between the White House, the Pentagon, and Kyiv had been unsubstantive, and for any delivery of ATACMS to make a difference on the battlefield, so many would have to be sent to Ukraine that it would “severely undercut” US stockpiles and interfere with other security priorities.
However a large amount of unneeded ATACMS—those designed to drop cluster bombs—are now likely to be sent to Kyiv since the US no longer employs them in battle plans. Fired from the 50 or so HIMARS platforms still in Kyiv’s arsenal, they could drop anywhere from 300 to 900 cluster bombs across the target zone.
Cluster bombs have between a 10% and 20% “dud rate” meaning many of the submunitions don’t explode on contact with the ground, but lie dormant waiting for someone to disturb them with a plow, a boot, or a curious hand. In Laos, it’s estimated that 270 million such submunitions were dropped via cluster bombs during the Vietnam War and that 20,000 people have been killed or maimed since the war’s end, most of them children who are curious to see what the tin can-shaped object is.
The Washington Post has reported just a few weeks after Ukrainian artillery teams began using 155-millimeter cluster shells launched from their Howitzers, that no such recording process is taking place.
“In welcoming the US decision to send the munitions, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said Kyiv will keep a ‘strict record of the use of these weapons and the local zones where they will be used,’” the Post reports. But, they write, when asked about how the documentation process works, an artillery official they spoke to on the front lines named Stanislav suggested that it was very simple—there was none. WaL