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Berlin says missile supply to Kyiv won't automatically follow US supplies

COLOGNE (Reuters) - German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said on Monday that Berlin will not necessarily supply Kyiv with Taurus cruise missiles simply because the U.S. may decide to send ATACMS long-range missiles to the war-torn country.

"There is no automatism in this war," Pistorius told reporters on the sidelines of a visit to Cologne, adding that Germany was not yet in a position to decide on whether or not to provide Ukraine with Taurus missiles.

Kyiv has been pushing Berlin to supply it with the missiles, which have a range of more than 500 km (311 miles) and are launched by fighter jets. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly made clear that Berlin will only act in concert with Washington on arms deliveries.

Britain and France have provided Ukraine with Storm Shadow and Scalp cruise missiles, which are similar to the Taurus. However, the United States has so far refrained from sending its ATACMS to Ukraine despite Kyiv's requests.

At the weekend, ABC reported that the U.S. was likely to deliver ATACMS to Ukraine for the first time.

Andriy Yermak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's chief of staff, said on the Telegram messaging app that discussions on ATACMS were moving forward, but he gave no details.

Zelenskiy told CNN in an interview that he planned to speak again to U.S. President Joe Biden about providing ATACMS to Ukraine, and that he hoped to receive them in the autumn.

Cruise missiles are hard to detect with air defence radars as they fly at low altitudes. They are mainly used to hit high-value targets behind enemy lines such as command bunkers, ammunitions and fuel dumps, airfields and bridges.

Russia has been using long-range missiles to destroy targets in Ukraine including civilian infrastructure, and Ukraine has no easy way to respond to such attacks.

(Reporting by Reuters TV and Sabine Siebold; Editing by Hugh Lawson)