Biden says the U.S. will NOT be sending Ukraine any missile that can hit Russia after Moscow’s ambassador and Putin propagandists said it would be crossing a red line
Kyiv has repeatedly requested U.S. Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) that can fire missiles hundreds of miles as it fights for control of its eastern Donbas region.
Last week, reports surfaced that the weapons could be part of the next package of aid, expected to be announced this week.
But Biden dashed Ukrainian hopes as he returned to the White House after a weekend away.
‘We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia,’ he told reporters.
Ukraine has already deployed dozens of U.S.-made M109 self-propelled howitzers which provide long-range artillery fire power, as the conflict morphs into a tactical battle over distance.
President Joe Biden arrived back at the White House on Monday morning and told reporters that the U.S. will not be sending Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia
Ukraine has been demanding Multiple Launch Rocket Systems – like the one seen here in a live fire training exercise in South Korea – to help repel Russian troops in the east of the country
The war in Ukraine has morphed into a series of long-range exchanges of artillery and rockets. Here a gypsum manufacturing plant is seen in the city of Bakhmut in Donbas
The Kyiv government has also requested U.S.-made M270 MLRS to repel Russian troops.
That alarmed Moscow, which said Washington would be crossing a red line.
The Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov used a Telegram post to issue a warning.
‘There is a risk that such equipment will be placed near Russia’s borders and Ukrainians will be able to strike at Russian cities,’ he said, according to Ukrayinska Pravda
‘Such a situation is unacceptable and intolerable for us.’
His words echoed those of President Vladimir Putin’s TV cheerleaders.
‘The US MLRS can launch shells over 500 kilometers,’ Olga Skabeyeva said on her show on the state network Rossiya-1
‘And if the Americans do this, they will clearly cross a red line, and we will record an attempt to provoke a very harsh response from Russia.’
Ukraine hawks have accused the White House of dragging its feet.
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov warned Washington against sending long-range weapons. ‘Such a situation is unacceptable and intolerable for us,’ he said
Olga Skabeyeva, known as one of Putin’s chief propagandists, warned that America supplying long-range rocket artillery to Ukraine would cross a ‘red line’
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has called for the rocket systems to be sent to Ukraine
Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was ‘frustrated’ by delays.
‘Apparently, providing Ukraine this new capability creates concerns among some in the Biden Administration that it will be seen as provocative and escalatory in the eyes of Putin,’ he wrote in a Twitter thread.
‘It is time to stop Putin from dictating the actions of the free world.’
The dilemma has been a constant in U.S. efforts to arm Ukraine. Officials have constantly weighed how far they can go in sending weapons without Moscow accusing Washington of escalating the war.
In the case of long range rocket systems, officials are reported to have proposed reducing that risk by only offering Ukraine shorter-range rockets, which have an effective range about 50 miles.
Concerns were also raised over whether drawing down so heavily on US stocks would create security issues. Mark Milley – chief of the general staff – said last week that he will be watching ‘very, very carefully’ to avoid such a risk.