US Republicans urge more ATACMS for Ukraine
PHOTO CAPTION: Representational photo of ATACMS via U.S. Defense Visual Information Distribution Service
By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of senior Republicans in the U.S. Congress urged President Joe Biden to send longer-range missiles to Ukraine, in a show of continued support for Kyiv among U.S. lawmakers despite pushback from some conservatives against more aid.
In a letter to Biden dated Nov. 1 and seen by Reuters, the top Republicans on congressional foreign relations and armed services committees said they welcomed reports that the administration has provided some limited-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) to Ukraine, but asked that he also send more longer-range systems.
"Ukraine's requirement for deep-strike capability remains urgent, particularly to range targets throughout Crimea," Representatives Michael McCaul and Mike Rogers and Senators James Risch and Roger Wicker wrote.
McCaul chairs the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Rogers leads the House Armed Services Committee, Risch is the top Republican on Senate Foreign Relations and Wicker is the top Republican on Senate Armed Services.
They sent the letter as the Republican-majority House of Representatives moved toward a vote on a standalone bill providing aid to Israel, defying Democratic President Joe Biden's request for a broad $106 billion national security funding bill with funding for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.
Reuters reported in September that the Biden administration was close to approving the shipment of longer-range missiles packed with Cluster bombs to Ukraine, giving Kyiv the ability to cause significant damage deeper within Russian-occupied territory.
In October, Ukrainian forces used U.S.-supplied ATACMS missiles for the first time, with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy saying the weapons had "proven themselves."
In their letter, the U.S. lawmakers said Ukraine has requested long-range ATACMS and demonstrated the ability to employ them in a responsible manner and Russia has not escalated in response to their use.
"Clearly, it is time for you to finish the job on ATACMS," they wrote. "The costs of failing to do so not only risks stalemate on the battlefield and the further protraction of this war, but also threatens further global instability as our adversaries conduct influence operations around the globe."
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Stephen Coates)