According to insiders, the US wants to supply Ukraine with advanced anti-ship missiles so that it can break the Russian blockade of its Black Sea ports. Two types of rockets are currently under discussion, as the Reuters news agency learned from three US government officials and two congressional employees who did not want to be named.
These are the Harpoon manufactured by Boeing with a range of up to 300 kilometers and the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from Kongsberg and Raytheon Technologies with 250 kilometers.
According to Hudson Institute naval expert Bryan Clark, 12 to 24 such missiles would be enough to threaten Russian warships and persuade the government in Moscow to end the blockade. This affects, for example, Ukrainian grain deliveries for the world market.
According to the British MoD, Russia has around 20 warships – including submarines – deployed in the battle zone. The Russian Navy has already suffered significant losses in the Ukraine War, in particular the sinking of the cruiser “Moskva”, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet.
According to Clark, the larger Russian ships could be in danger should Ukraine receive advanced weaponry and President Vladimir Putin nevertheless stick to the blockade: “They have nowhere to hide in the Black Sea.”
Due to the blockade of the Black Sea ports, millions of tons of grain cannot be exported. A humanitarian catastrophe looms in poorer countries in Asia and North Africa. But the consequences are already being felt in the EU through higher food prices. The German government had accused Russia of using the blockade of grain exports as a weapon of war.
In March, during the NATO summit in Brussels, it became known from US circles that the delivery of anti-ship missiles to Ukraine was being discussed. It was said at the time that they had “started to work on it”. In April, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked NATO member Portugal for a supply of Harpoons. The Bundeswehr also has the weapon system.
According to insiders, there are now a number of states that would be prepared in principle to send such missiles to Ukraine. However, no one wants to be the first to do so for fear of the Russian reaction should a warship be sunk by a missile owned by that country.
One of the government officials told Reuters there is now a “well-resourced” country that may be ready to deliver first. Then other states could follow. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in early May that his country wanted to supply Ukraine with Brimstone-type anti-ship missiles.