The US to deliver powerful missile systems to Ukraine, not be fired at Russia
As the 100-day mark for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches, the US is delivering Ukraine more advanced weaponry in the hopes of bolstering its position on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.
In a New York Times opinion piece published Tuesday, President Joe Biden argued that more improved rocket systems and weapons will allow Ukrainians to make more precise strikes on military targets in their own nation. He went on to explain what the US will and will not do in the Ukraine conflict.
The president stressed that “we are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” while senior administration officials separately said that Ukraine gave assurances it would not use the missiles to strike inside of Russia.
But the U.S. will — among other things — continue cooperating with allies on Russian sanctions and providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry and financial assistance, Biden added. These longer-range rockets are part of a new weapons package, announced by the White House on Wednesday and estimated at $700 million.
“Americans will stay the course with the Ukrainian people because we understand that freedom is not free,” he wrote. “That’s what we have always done whenever the enemies of freedom seek to bully and oppress innocent people, and it is what we are doing now.”
*What is the U.S. sending?*
A senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday that the US is supplying Ukraine with numerous M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
The satellite-guided systems, which have lately been utilized by the US against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan, are based on truck chassis and are incredibly precise.
They have a range of about 40 miles, which is roughly three times that of the Howitzer artillery that the United States has provided to Ukraine. These new rocket weapons, along with Western information, could allow Ukrainians to reach vital Russian targets such as command and control centers and fuel stores, potentially slowing Russian advances, particularly in eastern Ukraine.
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The complex system usually requires months of training, but the US is apparently planning to cut the time down to just a week.
*What is Russia saying?*
Even before Biden’s declaration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned last week that supplying Ukraine weapons capable of striking Russian soil would be a major step toward escalation.
Russia’s military ministry said Wednesday that roughly 1,000 members of the strategic nuclear force are conducting drills in reaction to Biden’s remarks.
Biden acknowledged the concerns about Russia’s potential use of nuclear weapons, which he said “would be completely unacceptable to us as well as the rest of the world and would entail severe consequences.”
“We currently see no indication that Russia has intent to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, though Russia’s occasional rhetoric to rattle the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible,” he wrote.
*Why announce it in a newspaper column?*
It’s not clear why Biden chose to share the news in an essay, but the editorial pages of The Times could provide a hint.
A recent editorial by the newspaper said that “a negotiated peace may require Ukraine to make hard decisions,” indicating the country might have to give up land.
That angered Ukrainian officials. Biden’s essay, with its clear assurances of U.S. support, may have been an answer to the piece.
“My principle throughout this crisis has been ‘Nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine,’ ” he wrote. “I will not pressure the Ukrainian government — in private or public — to make any territorial concessions. It would be wrong and contrary to well-settled principles to do so.”
He said the U.S. would continue to stand by Ukraine, describing that as not only the right thing to do but “in our vital national interests to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that might does not make right.”