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NATO May Provide Anti-Ship Missiles to Ukraine

anti ship missile
The Naval Strike Missile (above) may be among the possibilities under consideration (file image)

Published Mar 24, 2022 10:21 PM by The Maritime Executive

On Thursday, a senior U.S. official confirmed that NATO allies may transfer anti-ship missiles to the Ukrainian military, providing Ukraine with a new means of defending itself from the ongoing Russian invasion. 

"We have started consulting with allies on providing anti-ship missiles to Ukraine," the official told Reuters. "There may be some technical challenges with making that happen but that is something that we are consulting with allies and starting to work on."

The official did not specify the type of anti-ship missiles under consideration. Ukraine  reached an agreement with the UK on the provision of an unspecified anti-ship missile in early February; that munition may have been the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), a sophisticated small anti-ship missile in use with British and American forces. The Atlantic Council recently recommended providing Ukraine with the same system. 

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to a joint meeting of NATO member states for more armaments, including tanks, fighter jets, antiaircraft systems and anti-ship missiles. For political reasons, jets and long-range anti-aircraft systems have proven difficult to arrange, and public transfers of these much-needed systems have not yet occurred.

The news of a possible shipment of anti-ship missiles came on the same day as the first confirmed loss of a Russian Navy vessel in the Ukraine conflict. An Alligator-class tank landing ship exploded and burned at the occupied port of Berdyansk Thursday morning, and at least one other amphib was damaged. The Ukrainian military confirmed the casualty and said that "there will be more," but it did not provide details about the cause. 

So far, the only confirmed uses of anti-ship missiles in the conflict have been Russian launches, with munitions used against neutral merchant shipping and static land targets in Ukraine.