President Joe Biden announced in an op-ed Tuesday evening that he has decided to send advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, marking an increased capacity for Ukrainian forces to hit Russian targets as well as deeper U.S. support in the war.
He argued that the war will end with negotiations and Ukraine should be in the “strongest possible position” at the negotiating table. He said, “I’ve decided that we will 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 systems reportedly include the wheeled High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which would enable Ukraine to strike Russian forces from a farther distance than anything Ukraine has in its arsenal, at 48 miles. The systems will be included in a $700 million package the administration is expected to announce on Wednesday.
Biden denied that his administration wanted to see war between NATO and Russia, or Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ouster, or U.S. forces directly involved in the conflict.
He added, “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.”
Prior to Biden’s announcement, his administration had equivocated for weeks on whether it would send the advanced rocket systems, reportedly out of concern that Ukrainian forces could use them to strike targets inside Russia and broaden the war and NATO’s involvement in it.
In fact, Biden on Memorial Day suggested the U.S. would not be sending the systems, which could be used to hit targets inside Russia.
But the administration reportedly secured an assurance from Kyiv that the systems will not be used to strike targets on Russian soil, officials said in a background briefing before Biden’s announcement.
The support comes at a critical time in the war, as Russian forces are regrouping and focusing on gaining territory in eastern Ukraine. Pentagon assessments of the war have turned less optimistic since the beginning of the war on February 24, when Ukrainian forces fended off the seizure of Kyiv.
**By Kristina Wong