AllvertaGlobal – US President Joe Biden has agreed to provide Ukraine with an advanced rocket system that can strike with precision long-range targets. Biden wants to help Ukraine defend itself, but opposes providing Ukraine with weapons to attack Russia
The weapon that Ukraine has long demanded, is to help it strike enemy forces more precisely from greater distances. To date, the US has refused the request, fearing the weapons could be used to strike targets in Russia.
But on Wednesday, Biden said the lethal aid would strengthen Kyiv’s negotiating position against Russia and make a diplomatic solution more likely.
“That is why I decided that we would provide Ukraine with a more advanced rocket and ammunition system that would allow them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine,” Biden was quoted as saying by the New York Times.
The new armament will include the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), a senior White House official said – although he did not specify how many of them would be supplied.
The system can launch multiple precision-guided missiles at targets up to 70km (45 miles) away. This is further than the artillery that Ukraine currently has.
Last month, Ukraine’s army chief said that acquiring HIMARS units would be important in enabling it to counter Russian missile attacks.
The US expects Ukraine to deploy the weapons in the eastern Donbas region, where fighting is most intense, and where they can be used to attack Russian artillery units and troops targeting Ukrainian cities.
White House officials agreed to provide the rockets, only after receiving assurances from President Volodomyr Zelensky that the weapons would not be used to strike targets inside Russia.
“We will not send rocket systems to Ukraine that can attack Russia,” Biden wrote Wednesday.
The new rocket will form the core of a $700 million support package for Ukraine that will be formally unveiled on Wednesday, White House officials said.
Helicopters, anti-tank weapons, tactical vehicles and spare parts will be included in the 11th US-sanctioned military aid package for Ukraine since the invasion began in February.
In Wednesday’s article, Biden wrote that the US goal is simply to see a democratic, independent, sovereign Ukraine and not to oust Putin from his role as Russia’s president or to seek a wider conflict with Moscow.
He blamed continued Russian aggression for stalled peace efforts.
Biden said he saw no indication that this was Russia’s intention but warned that it was unacceptable and had severe consequences.
Soon after Biden’s article was published, Russian military officials announced that the country’s nuclear forces were holding exercises in the Ivanovo province near Moscow, according to the Interfax news agency.
Meanwhile in Ukraine, fighting continues in the eastern Donbas region.
On Tuesday, the governor of Luhansk said that one of Ukraine’s last showdowns in the region – the eastern city of Severodonetsk – was now largely under Moscow’s control.
Russian troops now occupy almost all of Luhansk and are focused on capturing neighboring Donetsk, the two territories that collectively make up the Donbas.
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