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Saturday, January 28, 2023

U.S. aims to arm Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles to fight Russia

PoliticsU.S. aims to arm Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles to fight Russia

Washington (The Times Groupe)- The White House is seeking to put advanced anti-ship missiles into the hands of Ukrainian forces to counter Russia’s blockade of their ports, officials said, amid fears more powerful weapons that could sink Russian warships would escalate the conflict.

Ukraine has not been shy about expressing its desire for advanced U.S. capabilities beyond its current arsenal of artillery, Javelin and Stinger missiles, and other weapons. On Kyiv’s list are missiles that could dislodge the Russian navy from its Black Sea ports, allowing grain and other agricultural products to be shipped around the world again.

As reported by current and former U.S. officials and congressional sources, long training requirements, difficulty maintaining equipment, or concerns that U.S. weapons could be captured by Russian forces are among the obstacles to sending longer range, more powerful weapons to Ukraine.

Two congressional sources and three U.S. officials say two types of powerful anti-ship missiles are being evaluated for shipment to Ukraine either directly or through a transfer from an ally that has the missiles.

Earlier this year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to Portugal for Harpoons, which have a range of nearly 300 kilometers.

Ukraine has not yet received the missiles due to several factors. As a sea-based missile, Harpoons typically cannot be launched from shore due to limited availability of platforms.

The United States was working on potential solutions, including removing a launcher from a U.S. ship. Experts and industry executives estimate that both missiles cost about $1.5 million per round.

According to the British defense ministry, about 20 Russian Navy vessels, including submarines, are operating in the Black Sea.

The Hudson Institute’s Bryan Clark told me that 12 to 24 anti-ship missiles like the Harpoon with ranges over 100 kilometers would be enough to threaten Russian ships and persuade Moscow to lift the blockade. “If Putin persists, Ukraine could take out the largest Russian ships, since they have nowhere to hide in the Black Sea,” Clark said.

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