On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced that it would deliver Ukraine a small number of high-tech, medium-range rocket systems, a vital weapon that Ukrainian authorities have been pleading for as they fight to halt Russian advancement in the Donbas.
The US strategy attempts to balance the urge to aid Ukraine in its fight against furious Russian artillery barrages and the determination not to provide armaments that could enable Ukraine to strike deep inside Russia and escalate the conflict.
In a guest piece published Tuesday evening in The New York Times, Biden revealed that he had decided to "provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will allow them to strike key targets on the Ukrainian battlefield with greater precision."
Biden stated on Monday that the United States will not provide Ukraine with "rocket systems capable of striking Russia." If a military system is close enough to the Russian border, it can fire into the country. The aid package likely to be announced on Wednesday will include what the United States deems medium-range rockets, which typically have a range of approximately 70 kilometers (45 miles), according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the aid's specifics.
It is anticipated that Ukraine will utilize the rockets in the eastern Donbas region, where they will be able to intercept Russian artillery and eliminate Russian positions in places with intensive combat, such as Sievierodonetsk.
Sievierodonetsk is essential to Russian aspirations to seize the Donbas before more Western weapons arrive to bolster Ukraine's defense. The city is located 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of the Russian border in the last pocket of territory under Ukrainian government control in the Luhansk region of Donbas.
In his piece for the New York Times, Biden wrote, "We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to attack beyond its borders." We do not wish to prolong the war solely to cause Russia misery."
US officials familiar with the decision did not specify the cost of the aid package. Still, it will be the eleventh package approved so far and the first to utilize the $40 billion in help recently approved by Congress. The rocket systems would fall within the Pentagon's drawdown authority, necessitating the rapid transfer of US-stocked weapons to Ukraine. The training of Ukrainian troops on the new plans could take at least a couple of weeks.
According to officials, the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, is installed on a vehicle and can transport a container with six missiles. The system can launch a medium-range rocket, which is the current plan, but it can also fire the Army Tactical Missile System, which is around 190 miles (300 kilometers) and is not part of the plan.
Since the war began in February, the United States and its allies have attempted to walk a fine line: provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself against Russia, but refrain from giving assistance that could inflame Russian President Vladimir Putin and spark a broader conflict that could spread to other parts of Europe.
Over time, however, the United States and its allies have increased the amount of armament entering Ukraine. The conflict has moved from Russia's all-out assault to seize the capital, Kyiv, and other locations, to more close-quarters battles over small terrain in the east and south.
To prevent Russia from destroying communities in the Donbas, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has pleaded with the West to deliver multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine as soon as feasible. The rockets have a more excellent range than the howitzer artillery systems supplied to Ukraine by the United States. They would permit Ukrainian forces to attack Russian soldiers from a distance beyond the scope of Russian artillery weapons.
Zelensky stated in a recent presentation, "We are fighting for Ukraine to be supplied with all the necessary weapons to alter the nature of the fighting and begin moving faster and more confidently toward the expulsion of the occupiers."
Philip Breedlove, a retired US Air Force general who served as NATO's supreme commander from 2013 to 2016, stated that Ukraine requires multiple launch rocket systems.
"These are crucial talents that we have not yet acquired. "Not only do they require them, but they have made it abundantly clear that they want them," added Breedlove. "We must get serious about supplying this army so that it can do what the world asks of it: fight a global superpower on the battlefield alone."
US and White House officials did not comment publicly on the aid package's specifics.
"We continue to evaluate a variety of potentially effective systems for our Ukrainian allies on the battlefield." "However, the president emphasized that we will not send long-range rockets to Ukraine for use beyond the battlefield," State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday. "As the battle's dynamics have shifted, we have also shifted the type of security assistance we provide to them, in large part because they have requested systems that will be more effective in areas such as Donbas."
Russia has been making incremental gains in the Donbas as it attempts to seize the remaining areas of the territory that are not under the control of separatists backed by Russia.
Putin has frequently cautioned the West against increasing its military presence in Ukraine. According to the Kremlin, Putin spoke with the leaders of France and Germany over the phone for eighty minutes on Saturday, during which he cautioned against the continuous delivery of Western armaments.
Since the beginning of the Biden administration, the United States has contributed around $4.6 billion in security aid to Ukraine, including approximately $3.9 billion since Russia's invasion on February 24.