US to send ‘more advanced’ rocket systems to Ukraine – Biden
The US will provide Ukraine with “more advanced rocket systems," President Joe Biden revealed in an article published in the New York Times on Tuesday.
Washington agreed to send multiple rocket launchers after Kiev gave “assurances” that the long-range weapons will not be used to strike Russian territory, several media outlets reported on Tuesday, citing White House officials.
The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) can hit targets as far as 50 miles away. The planned shipments are reportedly part of a $700 million military aid package for Ukraine that is due to be announced on Wednesday. The deal is said to also include more Javelin shoulder-fired anti-tank missile systems, various radars, and ammunition.
Biden signed a bill last month that provides Kiev with $40 billion worth of aid. In his article, Biden wrote that he had decided to “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.”
Biden added that Washington does not seek a war between Russia and NATO, or regime change in Russia. “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 wrote.
“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.”
The US leader stressed, however, that his country will continue to pressure Russia with sanctions, “the toughest ever imposed on a major economy.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in April that Moscow was treating Western weapons as “legitimate targets” after they were delivered to Ukraine. The Russian defense ministry has repeatedly reported destroying depots where Western-supplied weapons were stored.
Russia attacked Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.