The US could offer Ukraine advanced anti-ship missiles to break the Russian naval blockade

The White House wants to help Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles against Russia’s naval blockade, either through direct delivery or with the help of a European ally who can facilitate the transfer, officials said Thursday.

Warships under consideration include Boeing’s Harpoon and Kongsberg, and Raytheon’s Naval Strike Missile, a move that could bring Washington into a growing conflict with Moscow.

The move comes in response to a shopping list provided by Kyiv that included a request for missiles to end Russian Navy control of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports so it can resume trading in grain and other agricultural products.

Concerns have been raised in the US that sending longer-ranged, more powerful artillery across the continent would require lengthy training, create challenges in managing the equipment, and even risk confiscation of the weapons technology by Russian forces. There is also a possibility that Russia may view the move as an escalation of US involvement in the conflict.

US officials say some countries are willing to send harpoons to Ukraine but do not want to be the first or only nation to do so, fearing a backlash from Russia if a ship is sunk by their military aid with a harpoon an official told Reuters news agency.

But that could change soon as a “well-equipped” country is considering sending the missile to Ukraine, and if successful, others could follow suit, officials said.

At the same time, the US is trying to work on a plan for Ukraine to receive the Naval Strike Missile and launchers from its European allies.

If secured, Ukraine could deploy the naval missile from its coast and target points within a range of 250 km (155 miles).

Considered less of a logistical challenge than Harpoons, it takes less than 14 days to learn how to operate Naval Strike Missiles.

These can be launched via mobile ground launchers, which are readily available from NATO allies, and with warheads, which can be borrowed from Norway.

Another option for Western nations is to receive the Naval Strike Missiles donated by Norway to Ukraine, which have been endorsed by Norwegian lawmakers.

Other artillery requested by Kyiv includes Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (MLRS) such as Lockheed Martin’s M270, which can take out a target at a distance of more than 70 km (43 miles) – three times the range of howitzer shells in Ukraine’s inventory.

All weapons using US technology, such as harpoons and naval strike missiles, must be cleared by the US State Department, which receives final approval from the White House. The US could offer Ukraine advanced anti-ship missiles to break the Russian naval blockade

Bobby Allyn

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