Ukrainian forces have employed U.S.-supplied long-range ATACMS missiles for the first time, causing extensive damage to two airfields in Russian-occupied regions.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy lauded the missiles, affirming that they had “proved themselves” in achieving their objectives.
Throughout the day, Ukrainian military sources reported highly accurate strikes on airfields near Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and Berdiansk in the south, both under Russian control.
Zelenskiy expressed gratitude to the United States, highlighting the successful implementation of their agreements with President Biden.
While Ukraine had repeatedly requested ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) from the U.S., they pledged not to use them within Russian territory.
However, these powerful weapons were seen as game-changers in the 20-month-old conflict, enabling Ukrainian forces to disrupt previously inaccessible supply lines, air bases, and rail networks in Russian-occupied territories.
Ukrainian Special Forces, although not initially mentioning ATACMS, reported the destruction of nine helicopters, an air defense missile launcher, runways, and other equipment, causing significant losses to Russian forces.
There was no official comment from Russia, but unverified reports of cluster munitions from ATACMS missiles were found in the region controlled by Moscow.
Zelenskiy’s statement marks the first confirmed use of ATACMS in Ukraine.
These missiles can travel up to 190 miles (310 km), offering pinpoint precision against enemy targets.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry hinted at more developments to come, emphasizing the newfound ability to strike with unmatched precision.
Western partners of Kyiv had been cautious about supplying long-range missiles, fearing provocation of the Kremlin. The exact number of ATACMS missiles in Ukraine’s possession remains undisclosed.
Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukraine’s presidential adviser, asserted that a new chapter in the war had begun, with no safe havens left for Russian troops within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.
Russian military bloggers and sources reported losses of personnel and equipment due to ATACMS strikes.
CNN suggested that Washington had secretly delivered the missiles to Kyiv, while The Wall Street Journal confirmed their use by Ukraine.
Despite Ukraine’s counteroffensive efforts since June, liberating significant territory from Russian occupation has proven challenging.
The town of Avdiivka in the east remains under continuous assault, with Ukrainian forces successfully repelling ten attacks. Ukrainian forces have also reported “partial success” in advancing southward to the Sea of Azov.
The Ukrainian military asserted that Russia aimed to advance as far as possible toward Kupiansk in northeastern Ukraine before winter sets in, indicating the ongoing complexities of the conflict.