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Biden says US will provide Ukraine advanced rocket systems

A burnt Ukrainian tank is seen next to a puddle in Kolychivka, Ukraine. (Alexey Furman/Getty Images/TNS)

President Joe Biden said he’ll give Ukraine advanced rocket systems and other U.S. weaponry to better hit targets in its war with Russia, ramping up military support as the conflict drags into its fourth month.

“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,” Biden wrote in a New York Times article published Tuesday evening in Washington.

The package of weapons includes missiles that will allow Ukraine to strike locations as far as 80 kilometers away, a senior U.S. official told reporters on condition of anonymity. World leaders including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have publicly called for such a move in recent weeks.

The decision comes more than three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine, with the conflict now shifting into a brutal town-by-town grind as Russia tries to consolidate territory in the east rather than seize control of the entire country. That change in strategic goals has altered how the war is waged, with longer-range bombardment including by artillery increasingly a part of the fighting.

One concern in Washington and some European capitals about supplying longer-range weaponry and munitions was whether Ukraine would use them to strike targets inside Russia. That would risk expanding the war and pulling in NATO nations that have sought to draw a line between delivering defensive aid and engaging more aggressively in the conflict.

The U.S. official said Ukraine’s government offered assurances that they won’t use the new missile systems to target Russian territory. In its latest tranche, the U.S. stopped short of agreeing to send the longest-range munitions while highlighting previous shipments of other advanced systems, including howitzers and antitank weapons.

The White House plans to announce the new $700 million security assistance package on Wednesday, U.S. officials said. Since the war began, the U.S. has supplied more than $4.5 billion in military aid.

Biden administration officials have vowed to weaken Russia so that it can’t again attack a neighbor, imposing a slew of sanctions on Moscow and bolstering Ukraine’s military with billions of dollars in arms. But the goal of evicting Russian forces from Ukraine seems more distant, even after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s military forced Moscow to scale back its early ambitions to capture Kyiv and quickly replace the government.

“If Russia does not pay a heavy price for its actions, it will send a message to other would-be aggressors that they too can seize territory and subjugate other countries,” Biden wrote. “It could mark the end of the rules-based international order and open the door to aggression elsewhere, with catastrophic consequences the world over.”


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