The US secretly altered the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) it provided to Ukraine, preventing them from firing long-range projectiles into Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources.

Washington has shipped 20 HIMARS to Kyiv since June, along with a large cache of satellite-guided rockets capable of traveling up to 50 miles (80.46 kilometers) with precision.

The Ukrainian armed forces have successfully deployed HIMARS against crucial Russian targets such as ammunition depots, logistics supplies, and command and control centers. 

Ukraine Desires Longer-Range Projectile

However, Ukraine also wants the longer-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) to strike targets further away, such as in Crimea, from where Russia has reportedly been launching Iranian-supplied suicide drones. 

The US has refrained from sending the ATACMS — which can be fired from the HIMARS — fearing escalation of the conflict. The missile can strike nearly 200 miles (322 kilometers) away.

ATACMS Army Tactical Missile System launch, May 23, 2006. Image: U.S. Army

Washington’s Balancing Act

The system’s previously undisclosed feature reveals Washington’s apprehensions that Ukraine might not keep its promise not to target Russian territory, The Wall Street Journal wrote. It also revealed the length to which the Biden administration has gone to prevent possible escalation, the outlet added.

The feature prevents the Ukrainians from firing any long-range missile that Kyiv might have procured from a non-US source or have somehow produced indigenously, the outlet added.

This revelation comes on the heels of drone attacks at two Russian air bases on Monday, killing three Russian soldiers and damaging two aircraft. Moscow has blamed Kyiv for the attack.

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