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Satellite photos reveal devastating impact US ATACMS are having on Russia

New satellite images reveal the extent of the damage done to one of two Russian airfields that Ukraine said it struck with longer-range ballistic missiles fired from Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) donated by Washington.

The ATACMS strikes on Russian airfields in Ukraine’s Luhansk region and the port city of Berdyansk in the Zaporizhzhia region on Tuesday destroyed nine helicopters, dealing one of the most significant blows against Russian aviation since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022.

Satellite images showing the aftermath of the Ukrainian strike on the airfield in Berdyansk were published by Schemes, an investigative project from Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, citing global imaging company Planet Labs on Wednesday.

The images show multiple scorch marks where Russian helicopters reportedly used to be.

The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based think tank, said in an analysis of the conflict on Tuesday that the Ukrainian ATACMS strikes on Moscow’s airfields in Luhansk and Berdyansk will likely prompt the Russian command to disperse aviation assets and withdraw some aircraft to airfields further from the front line.

ATACMS are capable of reaching targets 100 miles or more away. Tuesday’s strikes marked Ukraine’s first known use of the weapons.

“Today special thanks to the United States,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Telegram on Tuesday. “Our agreements with President Biden are being implemented. They are executed very accurately — ‘ATACMS’ have proven themselves.”

The Russian Defense Ministry has yet to comment on the reports of strikes in Berdyansk and Luhansk, but on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the U.S. delivery of long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine “another mistake by the United States.”

“War is war,” Putin said. “And, of course, I have said that [ATACMS] pose a threat. It goes without saying. But what counts most is that they are completely unable to drastically change the situation along the line of contact. It’s impossible.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin photographed in Beijing, China, on October 18, 2023. New satellite images reveal the damage to a Russian airfield that Ukraine said it struck with longer-range ballistic missiles.
SERGEI GUNEYEV/POOL/AFP/Getty Images

Newsweek reached out to Russia’s Defense Ministry via email for comment.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky, said on social media Tuesday that “a new chapter of this war has (un)officially begun.”

“There are no more safe places for Russian troops within the…internationally recognized borders of #Ukraine,” he wrote. “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.”

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