- President Joe Biden says the US will provide more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine.
- Ukraine has been asking the US for long-range artillery, which it says is needed for its defense.
- These systems have double the range of the M777 howitzers that the US previously sent to Ukraine.
The US will be providing Ukraine with more advanced rocket systems and munitions to allow Ukrainian forces to “more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield,” President Joe Biden wrote in a Tuesday op-ed for The New York Times.
However, these weapons are only meant for Kyiv’s forces to inflict casualties within Ukraine, and the US isn’t “encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” Biden added.
“We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” he wrote, per The Times.
“We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” Biden added in his op-ed for the outlet. “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.”
Biden’s essay responded to an urgent request from Ukrainian officials for Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) that they say are needed to defend the country against Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region.
“Ukraine must receive all the weapons and all the defense equipment that will allow the defeat of tyranny,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said to G7 leaders on May 9, asking specifically for the M270 MLRS and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System produced by Lockheed Martin.
The MLRS has double the range of the M777 howitzers that the US has already sent to Ukraine and can fire up to 18 guided rockets in one minute, Insider’s Abbie Shull reported.
The US has other types of long-range artillery systems with ranges of up to 180 miles, but the Biden administration isn’t poised to send those over, The Wall Street Journal reported. “We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia,” Biden told Steve Holland, a reporter with Reuters, on Monday.
Biden hasn’t specified what rocket systems will be provided to Ukraine, but the Journal cited US officials saying that the plan would send 48 MLRS platforms and four HIMARS launchers.
The new tranche of weapons will be some of the most advanced equipment that the West has supplied Ukraine with, and Moscow has taken notice.
Per CNN, prominent Russian TV host Olga Skabeeva said on her show that the US would “cross a red line” if it gives the MLRS to Ukraine, and described it as an attempt to “provoke a very harsh response from Russia.”
Meanwhile, Biden wrote in his essay for The Times that the US would continue to work towards helping Ukraine reach an end to the war through diplomacy.