Denmark will give Kiev US-made Harpoon missiles, the Pentagon has confirmed FILE PHOTO: A Harpoon surface-to-surface missile being launched from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54) © Global Look Press / US Department of Defense

Denmark will provide an unspecified number of Harpoon anti-ship missiles and launchers to Ukraine, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced on Monday. Last week’s rumors about the transaction prompted Kiev to declare the US would help Ukraine “destroy” the Russian fleet, which the outgoing Pentagon spokesman denied.

Officially, the missiles are intended to help “defend the Ukrainian coastline,” according to Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley, who spoke with reporters after Monday’s virtual meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

The panel – composed of 47 countries willing to supply Kiev with weapons – had a “highly constructive” meeting and got “a sharper sense” of Ukrainian needs from Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov and other Kiev officials, Austin said.

In addition to the Danish missiles, Czechia has pledged attack helicopters, tanks, and multiple rocket launcher systems (MLRS). Kiev has been asking for long-range artillery, tanks and armored vehicles, as well as drones, according to Austin.

More US-supplied weapons destroyed in Ukraine – Russia More US-supplied weapons destroyed in Ukraine – Russia

Boeing’s A/U/RGM-84 Harpoon is the US Navy’s standard anti-ship missile, with an estimated range of about 300 kilometers. It has active radar guidance and skims the surface until it reaches the target, at which point it can execute a “pop-up” maneuver and strike from above. Harpoons are normally launched from either surface vessels or attack aircraft, but launchers can be removed from ships for use ashore – which appears to be what Denmark intends to do.

Last week, Reuters reported that the Pentagon was considering sending Ukraine either Harpoons or Naval Strike Missiles (NSM), directly or through a “European ally.” The agency cited “three US officials and two congressional sources,” all of them anonymous. They expressed hope that once the first country commits to sending Harpoons, others would follow.

According to Reuters, the NSM was regarded as “less logistically difficult” because NATO countries could send Ukraine the launchers and it only took 14 days to train operators how to use them – but it had a somewhat shorter range of 250 kilometers.

The story generated some controversy, however, when Ukrainian Internal Affairs Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko tweeted that the US was “preparing a plan to destroy the Black Sea Fleet,” referring to Russia’s naval force currently off the Ukrainian coast. Asked about this, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters he could “tell you definitively that that’s not true.” However, he did not deny that the US was considering sending Harpoons to Kiev. (RT)