Russia: We’ll move further west due to MGM-140B supply to Ukraine

A high-ranking U.S. official, who has opted for anonymity, has made a startling revelation: The US secretly deployed long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine a few weeks ago. Furthermore, these missiles were actually put into use just a few days ago. Notably, the deployment was part of a $300 million military aid package for Ukraine ratified by President Joe Biden on March 12. However, the precise quantity of the missiles dispatched hasn’t been disclosed. 

Despite rumors, US may not provide Ukraine with 300km-range ATACMS
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The same U.S. source confirmed that these missiles were first used on April 17 during an early morning Ukrainian assault on a Russian military airfield located on the Crimean Peninsula. The decision to station ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) missiles, capable of hitting targets up to 300 km away, in Ukraine has incited heated debates within President Biden’s team for some time. To note, last September, ATACMS medium-range missiles were sent to Ukraine, although these particular missiles only had a range of 165 km.

“Move West”

In a recent statement, the Kremlin hinted that if the United States supplies Kyiv with advanced ATACMS long-range guided missile systems, Russia might be obliged to push Ukrainian forces further behind, thus broadening the area Russia deems as the “neutral zone.” This sentiment emerged shortly after the White House’s move in October to provide Kyiv with a version of the ATACMS missile capable of hitting targets up to 100 miles away. 

An update on the situation foresees Congress passing a bill to prepare a new package that might incorporate a different, longer-range missile capable of striking up to 186 miles away. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed on Monday that Kyiv will receive these long-range ATACMS missiles, conveying his gratitude to Washington.


Enhancing the capabilities of the initial ATACMS missile system, the MGM-140B, a long-range variant, is ingeniously engineered to transport payloads up to 300 kilometers. This significant extension in the range represents a remarkable evolution in the system. 

M39A1 ATACMS for Ukraine are officially expired but still usable
Photo credit: Medium

In terms of its structure, the MGM-140B is fairly compact, measuring approximately 4 meters in length and around 610 millimeters in diameter. Its size, particularly when considering its incredible range, marks it as a formidable force in long-range operations. 

High-strength, lightweight materials – ranging from composite materials to alloys – are strategically used in the missile’s construction. These offer essential durability and resilience against the demanding stresses experienced during the missile system’s launch and ensuing flight. 

The MGM-140B boasts a notable operational range, capable of striking targets as far as 300 kilometers away. Such a range is made possible through the use of a solid propellant rocket motor, providing the necessary thrust for the missile to achieve these impressive distances.

MGM-140B’s key role

Experts from the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW), British military intelligence, along with Russian military bloggers, suggest that Ukraine’s acquisition of American long-range ATACMS missiles may shift the balance of power. Intriguingly, these weapons have reportedly already been used to strike the Berdyansk and Luhansk airfields on October 17. 

In the previous year, speculation abounded that the liberation of Kherson from the Russian military was largely due to Kyiv’s receipt of GMLRS medium-range missiles from the US. These missiles, launched from HIMARS installations, played a crucial role in the destruction of the captured Chernobayevka airport near Kherson. The name of this airport, which became a source of humor and memes last fall, continues to be used as a cautionary tale and analogy by several pro-Kremlin military channels on Telegram, including the renowned Russian-linked Rybar channel, following the October 17 attacks. 

US-supplied to Ukraine ATACMS M39 Block I destroyed a Russian S-400
Photo credit: Telegram

According to experts, the implications of Ukraine’s new long-range firepower extend far beyond the battlefield. Russia will probably need to reposition its aircraft, helicopters, ammunition dumps, and command posts significantly farther from the front lines. This strategic change would give the Ukrainian army valuable time, impede the response time of Russian forces, and complicate their ammunition supply lines. This strategic advantage could be a game-changer for the Ukrainian army.


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