US will send more advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, says Biden

WASHINGTON — President Biden said Tuesday that the United States would send Ukraine advanced rocket systems and munitions that would allow it to more accurately target Russian military assets within its borders.

In an op-ed published online Tuesday evening by The New York Times, Biden said delivering the advanced rocket systems would allow Ukraine to “fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest position possible.” strength possible at the negotiating table”.

Mr Biden’s administration has already sent Ukraine billions of dollars worth of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other military equipment as the country seeks to repel the Russian invasion of three months.

As the war dragged on, the Biden administration gradually expanded the range of weapons it supplied to Ukrainians. But senior administration officials fear provoking a wider war with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin by supplying weapons that could allow Ukraine to strike deep within its country.

In his article, Mr Biden pointed out that the new rockets would be used to “hit key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine”. And he said the United States was not looking to engage Russia in a larger conflict.

He said bluntly that he was not seeking to unseat Mr Putin, despite his off-the-cuff remarks during a speech in Poland earlier this year when he said the Russian president ‘cannot stay in power’ .

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden offered a different view.

“We are not looking for a war between NATO and Russia,” he said. “Even though I disagree with Mr. Putin and find his actions outrageous, the United States will not try to force his ouster in Moscow.”

He added: “Until the United States or our allies are attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, whether by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces.”

Mr Biden had told reporters on Monday that “we are not going to send rocket systems capable of hitting Russia to Ukraine”.

Officials did not provide details on the exact types of rockets the United States will provide. The one used most often by the Pentagon is the M31 GMLRS – for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System – a satellite-guided precision weapon that carries about the same explosive power as a 500-pound bomb dropped from the air.

It can travel over 40 miles, far beyond the range of any artillery Ukraine currently uses. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service in June, the Pentagon has spent about $5.4 billion to purchase more than 42,000 such rockets since 1998.

But Mr. Biden made clear in his op-ed on Tuesday that the administration stands ready to provide more advanced weapons to Ukraine as the Russian military advances in the east of the country.

“Standing with Ukraine in this hour of need is not just the right thing to do,” he wrote. “It is in our vital national interest to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that might does not make right.”

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