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2 Jan, 2024 23:53

Ukraine to decide targets for US missiles – ambassador

The US envoy’s reported remarks come after over two dozen Russian civilians were killed by an attack on Belgorod
Ukraine to decide targets for US missiles – ambassador

The Ukrainian military command will decide for itself how to use the missiles for HIMARS launchers that Washington is providing, US Ambassador to Kiev Bridget Brink said on Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian outlet Strana.

The US has sent Ukraine around 30 high-mobility artillery rocket systems since mid-2022. The projectiles Washington has officially supplied to Kiev have a range of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles). Ukraine has repeatedly demanded longer-range missiles.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces command will “independently decide on the range of strikes delivered” using the HIMARS projectiles the US plans to provide “in the near future,” Strana reported Brink as saying on Tuesday afternoon.

Brink made an identical announcement in June 2022. It was reiterated by the Pentagon in February 2023, when the US announced it would send Ukraine Ground Launched Small Diameter Bombs (GLSDB) munitions. 

According to a Washington Post article published at the time, Ukraine carries out HIMARS launches using “specific coordinates provided by US military personnel,” but chooses the targets itself. The US provides coordinates and targeting information “solely in an advisory role,” an anonymous American official insisted.

Russia has said that this is an immaterial distinction, and repeatedly warned that US and British officials involved in Ukrainian attacks on civilians will be brought to justice.

In October, Kiev boasted about using longer-ranged ATACMS missiles “secretly” supplied by the US. As it turned out, the White House had sent over a small number of the rockets armed with the controversial cluster munitions.

On Saturday, Ukrainian long-range rocket artillery struck the main town square of Belgorod with cluster bombs, killing 25 civilians – including children – and injuring 100 more. Czech-supplied weapons were reportedly used in the attack. Russia has retaliated by targeting Ukrainian command posts, weapons warehouses and military factories in a wave of missile and drone strikes.