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

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

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The US will send Ukraine more advanced rocket systems to help it defend itself, President Biden has announced.

The weapons, long requested by Ukraine, are to help it strike enemy forces more precisely from a longer distance.

Until now, the US had refused the request out of fear the weapons could be used against 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.

Writing in the New York Times, he said: “That is why 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.”

This is a fine balancing act for Mr Biden, as providing more powerful weapons could risk drawing the US and its Nato allies into direct conflict with Moscow.

New weaponry 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 systems can launch multiple precision-guided missiles at targets as far as 70km (45 miles) away – far further than the artillery that Ukraine currently has. They are also believed to be more accurate than their Russian equivalents.

Last month, Ukraine’s army chief said that getting the HIMARS units would be “crucial” in allowing it to counter Russian missile attacks.

The US expects Ukraine to deploy the weapons in the eastern Donbas region, where the fighting is most intense, and where they can be used to strike Russian artillery units and forces targeting Ukrainian towns.

White House officials agreed to provide the rockets, they said, only after gaining assurances from President Volodomyr Zelensky that the weapons would not be used to attack targets inside Russia.

“We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia,” Biden wrote on Wednesday.

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