Biden: We Will Provide More Advanced, Precise Rocket Systems to Ukraine

( – Amid fierce fighting in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, President Biden has confirmed that the United States will provide Ukrainian forces with some of the more advanced and precise rocket systems that Kyiv has been calling for, to bolster its defense against the Russian invaders.

In a New York Times op-ed, Biden said he has “decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

The president said the provision of weapons to Ukraine during the war, now in its fourth month, has been designed to enable it to “fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.”

As Ukrainian officials have appealed for more sophisticated rocket systems to counter Russian artillery in Donbass, which borders Russia, the U.S. has been concerned that providing weaponry which could allow Ukraine to hit targets on Russian soil may provoke President Vladimir Putin and risk widening the war.

After some media outlets reported that the U.S. was preparing to provide Ukraine with rocket systems with long-distance capabilities, Biden told reporters at the White House on Monday that the U.S. would not give the Ukrainians “rocket systems that can strike into Russia.”


In response, former Russian president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev in a Telegram post called Biden’s remarks “reasonable.”  He said if Russian cities had been hit by such weaponry, Russian forces would have struck back at “centers where such criminal decisions are made.”

“Some of them are certainly not in Kyiv,” he added pointedly. “No explanations necessary …”

U.S. officials speaking on background on Tuesday said the equipment which the U.S. will supply are High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). Depending on the rockets used, the mobile rocket launcher system can fire projectiles to reach targets anywhere from 40 to 190 or more miles away.

The munitions that the U.S. reportedly plans to supply are those with a shorter-range capability, but still providing greater range than artillery currently in the Ukrainian arsenal.

A formal announcement of a new military aid package for Ukraine is expected on Wednesday.

Biden in his op-ed reiterated that the U.S. goal was not to “seek a war between NATO and Russia” or to “bring about [Putin’s] ouster in Moscow.”

“So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces,” he wrote. “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.”

Confronting concerns that the Kremlin could resort to using nuclear weapons in the war, Biden said the U.S. currently sees no indication of such an intention on the part of the Russians, although he repeated U.S. criticism of occasional nuclear saber-rattling from Moscow, calling it “dangerous and extremely irresponsible.”

Biden also used the opportunity to distance his administration from voices calling for Kyiv to agree to territorial compromises as a price for bringing the conflict to an end.

“I will not pressure the Ukrainian government – in private or public – to make any territorial concessions. It would be wrong and contrary to well-settled principles to do so.”

At a press conference in New York, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield took a question about the possible provision of long-range rockets to Ukraine.

“We are not providing any weapons that will allow the Ukrainians to attack Russia from inside of Ukraine,” she replied. “We’re not going to become a party to the war, but we will support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its own sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

On Sunday, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) urged the administration to immediately provide Ukraine with the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) that it has been asking for.

“The MLRS is defensive, conventional weaponry that would help balance the battlefield in eastern Ukraine where the most fierce fighting is occurring and where Russians are making incremental gains,” he tweeted.

“The admin must not deter itself from providing this assistance for fear of provoking Russia,” Portman said. “The MLRS can help balance the field in Ukraine’s favor and should be approved and shipped immediately.”

The HIMARS is a lighter, more mobile equivalent of the MLRS, with wheels rather than tracks.

Moving at speeds of up to 53 miles an hour it boasts what manufacturer Lockheed Martin says is a “shoot and scoot capability which enhances crew and platform survivability in high threat environments.”


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