Joe Biden has announced that the United States will send medium-range rocket systems to Ukraine to aid its forces as they struggle to block Russian progress, in an apparent change of heart.
The US president said on Monday that Washington “is not going to send Ukraine rocket systems that can hit Russia”.
But with Vladimir PoutineAs Ukraine’s forces advance in the Donbas region, the decision to deliver the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) was made on the condition that Ukraine would not use it to launch strikes beyond the border.
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Officials say the systems are part of a new US $700m (£556m) security assistance program for Kyiv, which will include helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, vehicles tactics, spare parts and more.
The White House hopes the decision to supply the advanced rocket systems balances a desire to help Ukraine stave off Russian artillery barrages while not supplying weapons that could escalate the war. .
In a guest essay published in The New York Times, Mr. Biden confirmed that he had decided to “provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and ammunition that will allow them to more accurately strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine”.
Any weapon system can fire into Russia if it is close enough to the border.
The aid package to be unveiled on Wednesday would send what the United States considers medium-range rockets, which can typically travel about 45 miles.
Senior administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement, said the Ukrainians had assured US officials that they would not fire rockets into Russian territory.
They said the systems would, however, give Ukrainian forces greater precision in targeting Russian assets inside Ukraine.
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It is expected that Ukraine could use the rockets in the eastern region of Donbass, where they could both intercept Russian artillery and eliminate Russian positions in cities with heavy fighting, such as Severodonetsk.
Severodonetsk is key to Russian efforts to capture Donbass before more Western weapons arrive to bolster Ukraine’s defense.
The town 90 miles south of the Russian border is the last pocket of land under Ukrainian government control in the Luhansk region of Donbass.
Mr Biden said in his New York Times essay: “We neither encourage nor allow Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.” .
“Any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict (…) would have serious consequences”
He also used the test to allay fears of nuclear attacks, while issuing a warning to Putin’s regime.
“I know many people around the world are concerned about the use of nuclear weapons,” he said.
“We currently see no indication that Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, although Russia’s occasional rhetoric to shake the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible.
“Let’s be clear: any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict, on any scale, would be totally unacceptable to us and to the rest of the world and would have grave consequences.”
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The rocket systems would be part of the Pentagon’s withdrawal authority, which would involve removing weapons from US inventory and moving them quickly to Ukraine.
Ukrainian troops would also need training on the new systems, which could take at least a week or two.
The HIMARS is mounted on a truck and can carry a container with six rockets.
Although it can launch a medium-range rocket, it is also capable of firing a longer-range missile, the Army’s Tactical Missile System, which has a range of around 190 miles but is not part of the plan.
It came as Germany said it would supply Ukraine with anti-aircraft missiles and modern radar systems, amid growing criticism that Berlin was not doing enough to help the country defend itself against the invading forces.
Since the war began in February, the United States and its allies have tried to toe a narrow line by sending weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia, but stopping short of delivering aid that will inflame Mr. Putin and trigger a wider conflict that could spill over to other parts. from Europe.