By Katabella Roberts
The United States is providing Ukraine with “more advanced rocket systems and munitions” as Russia’s invasion continues, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.
Writing in a New York Times opinion piece, Biden said that America’s goal in Ukraine is “to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.”
“We have moved quickly to send Ukraine a significant amount of weaponry and ammunition so it can fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” the president continued.
“That’s why I’ve 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,” he wrote.
Some news outlets reported last week that Biden was preparing to send advanced, long-range rocket systems to Ukraine following requests from officials in Kyiv.
The reports, which cited unidentified Defense Department officials, said the White House would deploy Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) or the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine’s military.
The longer-range missiles can fire rockets at targets hundreds of miles away and are made to support operations “with high-volume destructive, suppressive and counter-battery fires”, according to the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center (USAASC).
The weapons allow for attacks with low-collateral damage and provide all-weather, 24-hour close- and long-range precision rocket and missile fire support which can quickly enhance combat effectiveness, the center says.
While the munitions would mark a big improvement to Ukraine’s current stock of weaponry, it would also mean that Kyiv could potentially strike targets or infrastructure inside Russia, a move that would dramatically escalate the war.
Biden said in his op-ed on Tuesday that while it plans to send the more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, it was not advocating for Ukraine to do such a thing.
Russia warned the United States and NATO last month that there would be “unpredictable consequences” if they continue sending the “most sensitive” weapons to Ukraine, the Washington Post reported.
“We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” Biden wrote. “As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his 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. 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.”
Elsewhere, the president said the United States will continue to provide Ukraine with advanced weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters, and ammunition.
The White House will also continue cooperating with its allies regarding further sanctions on Russia, and send billions in financial assistance to the country, as authorized by Congress
“We will work with our allies and partners to address the global food crisis that Russia’s aggression is worsening,” Biden continued.
“And we will help our European allies and others reduce their dependence on Russian fossil fuels, and speed our transition to a clean energy future.”
The latest weapons package draws from a nearly $40 billion bill passed by Congress last month that included $20.4 billion in military assistance along with $8.5 billion in economic assistance and $3 billion in humanitarian assistance to address food shortages around the globe.