The US will send Ukraine more advanced rocket systems to help it defend itself, President Biden has announced.
President Joe Biden said Tuesday that he would “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 weapons, long requested by Ukraine, are to help it strike enemy forces more precisely from a longer distance. Until now, the US refuses the request out of fear the weapons can be use against targets in Russia.
The White House National Security Council said Tuesday that the “more advanced rocket systems” were longer-range Multiple Launch Rocket Systems or MLRS. They are capable of reaching Russia, officials said, but are not intended to fire rockets into Russia or be used outside Ukraine.
This is a fine balancing act for Mr. Biden, as providing more powerful weapons could risk drawing the US and its Nato allies into direct conflict with Russia.
Weapons that the US will provide to Ukraine
New weaponry will include the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), according to senior White House officials. Although he doesnot specify how many of them would be supplied.
The systems can launch multiple precision-guided missiles at targets as far as 70km (45 miles) away – far further than the artillery that Ukraine currently has. They are believe to be more accurate than their Russian equivalents.
Ukraine will not launch these rockets into Russia
A senior administration official said Ukraine has agreed not to use them to launch rockets into Russia.
Mr. Zelensky confirmed this in an interview for US network Newsmax.
“We’re not interested in what is happening in Russia,” he said. “We’re only interested in our own territory in Ukraine.”
The senior official said that the package would be for $700 million and that it would also include more systems and weapons that the U.S. has already provided Ukraine, including more Javelin missiles.
The US expects Ukraine to deploy the weapons in the eastern Donbas region, where the fighting is most intense. They can use these weapons to strike Russian artillery units and forces targeting Ukrainian towns.
Helicopters, anti-tank weapons, tactical vehicles, and spare parts are to be included in what will be the 11th package of military aid approved by the US for Ukraine since the invasion began in February.