Ukraine has finally received long-range ATACMS missiles from the United States and has begun deploying them against Russian targets, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on October 17. In his daily video address, Zelenskyy thanked the US directly for the precision weapons and quipped that Ukraine’s agreements with President Biden are being implemented “very accurately.” He then confirmed that the ATACMS missiles had already “proven themselves.”
Zelenskyy’s comments came following a series of powerful overnight airstrikes on Russian airbases in occupied southern and eastern Ukraine, which sparked a day of frenzied speculation over the possible unannounced delivery of ATACMS missiles to Ukraine. According to Ukrainian military officials, the attacks on Russian aircraft and ammunition depots close to the occupied Ukrainian cities of Berdyansk and Luhansk resulted in the destruction of nine Russian military helicopters and a range of other equipment.
News of the strikes sparked alarm in Russia, with one Russian military blogger describing the attacks as “one of the most serious blows” of the entire war. Meanwhile, the mood in Kyiv was jubilant. As is customary when Ukrainians are confronted with good news from the front lines of the war with Russia, ATACMS memes soon began springing up throughout the country’s lively social media ecosystem.
Ukrainian officials were quick to acknowledge the significance of this latest addition to the country’s expanding arsenal. “A new chapter of the war has (un)officially begun,” posted Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak. “There are no more safe places for Russian troops within the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine. This means that there is no possibility of retaining the south, Crimea, and the Black Sea Fleet in the medium term. The countdown has already begun.”