The United States will not send the Ukrainian military rocket systems that can reach targets inside Russia, President Joe Biden said Monday, as Ukraine asks U.S. officials for long-range rockets to aid in its fight against Russian forces in the country’s east.
When asked outside the White House whether the United States plans to ship long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, Biden told reporters: “We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia.”
Biden’s comments came after CNN and the Washington Post reported last week the U.S. is planning to give Ukraine rocket systems that can strike targets up to hundreds of miles away, including the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the Multiple Rocket Launch System (MRLS)—which Ukraine has publicly lobbied for.
The Biden Administration may provide Ukraine with MLRS units but only equip them with slightly shorter-range rockets, the Post reported, a move that could allay the risk of provoking Russia by giving Ukraine weapons that can strike within Russian territory.
Last week, a Russian state television host called MLRS shipments to Ukraine a “red line” that could draw a “very harsh response” from Russia.
The Biden Administration planned to announce that it would provide Ukraine with the rocket systems as early as this week, part of the latest package of U.S.-provided arms more than three months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, according to CNN and the Post.
Ukraine is battling Russian forces seeking to fully occupy Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, known collectively as Donbas. In recent days, Russia has focused on Severodonetsk, one of the last major Ukrainian-controlled cities in Luhansk. Amid this pressure, Ukrainian officials have asked for heavier and longer-range weapons so they can stop Russian advances at a further distance, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeting last week these weapons would help “repel Russian attacks.” In particular, the Lockheed Martin-produced HIMARS system could help Ukrainian forces take out some of the Russian artillery units that have concentrated in eastern Ukraine and allowed Russia to keep advancing.
The United States has sent billions of dollars’ worth of military assistance to Ukraine since the war began in late February. Over time, the U.S. has scaled up the types of equipment offered to Ukraine, including dozens of U.S.-provided howitzers. However, the Biden Administration has declined to offer some types of support, aiming to avoid drawing the U.S. into a confrontation with Russia. The U.S. has pushed back on Ukraine’s request for MiG-29 fighter jets, and while Ukraine is believed to have carried out sporadic attacks inside Russian territory, U.S. officials have reportedly refused to give Ukraine intelligence on targets within Russia.
US preparing to approve advanced long-range rocket system for Ukraine as Russian TV host warns of crossing a ‘red line’ (CNN)
Those American Rockets Ukraine Has Been Begging For? They’re Perfect For Shooting Russian Artillery. (Forbes)