A U.S. official confirmed to Fox News the United States secretly sent the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to Ukraine and that Ukraine has successfully used them.
The missiles have a range of about 100 miles.
In an evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself later confirmed Tuesday that the United States has quietly delivered the long-range ballistic missiles that Kyiv said it urgently needed and that President Biden promised last month.
‘Thank you to everyone who is fighting and working for Ukraine!’ he said in the video shared on his Telegram account. ‘Thank you to everyone who is helping us! And today I am especially grateful to the United States. Our agreements with President Biden are being implemented. And they are being implemented very accurately – ATACMS have proven themselves.’
‘ATACMS. More to come,’ Ukraine’s defense ministry wrote on X, accompanied by American and Ukrainian flags.
The delivery of the ATACMS, was shrouded in secrecy, with the expectation that the first public acknowledgment would come when the missiles were used on the battlefield. That intense secrecy is a marked change from previous U.S. weapons sent by the Biden administration. In nearly all other cases, the U.S. has publicly announced its decision prior to the weapons and equipment being shipped overseas.
However, the Pentagon has said before not every weapon sent to Ukraine is listed in the official PDA announcement.
Because of lingering U.S. concerns about escalating tensions with Russia, the ATACMS version that went to Ukraine will have a shorter range than the maximum distance the missiles can have, according to The Associated Press, which cited sources of their own to confirm the U.S. shipment. While some versions of the missiles can go as far as about 180 miles, the ones sent to Ukraine have a shorter range and carry cluster munitions, which, when fired, open in the air, releasing hundreds of bomblets rather than a single warhead.
Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces claimed that a nighttime attack on targets in eastern and southern Ukraine destroyed nine Russian helicopters and other military equipment and personnel at two airfields in Russia-occupied regions.
Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces also claimed to have hit military equipment, an air-defense system, ammunition warehouses and runways, a statement said. Dozens of Russian military personnel were injured in the attack codenamed Operation Dragonfly, it said.
The ATACMS would be key in Ukraine’s ability to hit the airfield in Berdyansk since it is within striking distance of the shorter-range version of the missile, and the cluster munitions would be effective in hitting multiple targets. The closest Ukrainian troop positions on the western bank of the Dnieper River are just about 100 miles from Berdyansk.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.