Biden confirms U.S. is sending advanced rocket systems to Ukraine

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President Biden on Tuesday confirmed that his administration is sending medium-range advanced rocket systems to Ukraine, responding to a top request from Ukrainian officials who say the weapons are necessary to curb the advance of Russian forces in the east.

Biden said the more advanced rocket systems and munitions, which can pinpoint an enemy target nearly 50 miles away, will enable Ukraine “to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield.”

Ukrainian officials provided assurances they would not use the weapons to strike targets inside Russia, a senior U.S. official said. Such a move could risk an escalation in the conflict, potentially provoking Russian retaliation against U.S. forces or allies.

“America’s goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign, and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression,” Biden said in an essay published Tuesday evening. “We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” his essay added.

An announcement on advanced rocket systems had been expected this week, as officials weighed how to help Kyiv defend itself without further inflaming tensions with Russia.

The United States is sending the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, which will extend Ukraine’s reach in the ongoing artillery war with Russia, a senior administration official said Tuesday.

The United States will not provide the longest-range munitions for the system to Ukraine, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters. The advanced weapons are part of a new $700 million package of military equipment.

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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