- President Biden said the United States will send high-tech rocket launchers to Ukraine.
- “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” Biden said.
- “We don’t want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” the president said.
The US government has announced that it will send a small number of high-tech intermediate-range rocket launch systems to Ukraine. It is a critical weapon that the Ukrainian government has been begging for as it tries to stop Russian progress in the Donbas region.
The US plan is to strike a balance between its desire to help Ukraine combat relentless Russian artillery strikes, and providing weapons that could allow Ukraine to attack targets deep inside Russian territory that could trigger a flare-up of the conflict.
US to send rocket launchers and advanced ammunition to Ukraine
In an essay published Tuesday afternoon in The New York Times, Biden confirmed that he has decided to “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and ammunition that will enable them to more accurately strike battlefield targets in Ukraine.”
US officials said the aid package due to be announced Wednesday would include what Washington considers intermediate-range rockets, which can travel about 70 kilometers (45 miles), reported The Associated Press.
A heavy blow to Russia?
The rocket systems are part of a new $700 million tranche of security assistance to Ukraine from the US that will include helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, tactical vehicles, spare parts and more, two senior officials said Tuesday.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity about the weapons package that will be formally unveiled on Wednesday. The expectation is that Ukraine will be able to use these rockets in the eastern Donbas region, where they could intercept Russian artillery and destroy Russian positions in towns, like Sievierodonetsk, where intense fighting has been registered.
“We don’t want to prolong the war”
In his New York Times essay, Biden added: “We are not encouraging or allowing Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We don’t want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.” It is the 11th package approved so far, and will be the first to take advantage of the $40 billion in security and economic assistance recently approved by Congress. The rocket systems would be part of the Pentagon’s withdrawal authority, thus involving taking weapons from the US inventory and bringing them to Ukraine. Ukrainian troops would also need training on the new systems, which could take at least a week or two.
Officials said the plan is to send Ukraine the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which is mounted on a truck and can carry a container with six rockets. The system can launch a medium-range rocket, which is the current plan, but it is also capable of firing a longer-range missile, the Army’s Tactical Missile System, which has a range of about 190 miles (300 kilometers).
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