Joe Biden said the United States would not supply Ukraine with missiles that could reach Russia, in a bid to ease tensions with Moscow over the possible deployment of long-range missiles with a range of about 185 miles.
The White House has been studying petitions from Ukraine — and it is Loss of ground in the Battle of Donbass — Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to offset Moscow’s increasingly effective use of long-range artillery, amid Russian warnings that doing so would cross a red line.
“We will not send to Ukraine “Missile systems that can hit Russia,” Biden told reporters Monday after returning to the White House after a weekend in Delaware.
American-made MLRS come in many different variants, which in turn use a variety of munitions. The longest range missiles can fire up to 185 miles, but others use missiles with shorter ranges of 20 to 40 miles.
The exact meaning of Biden’s statement on Monday was unclear, but it was consistent with other statements Briefings of the weekend That the White House was willing to provide the MLRS as long as it withheld the longer-range missiles.
This was repeated on Monday. One senior US official said: “The MLRS is under consideration, but nothing is on the table with long-range offensive capabilities.”
Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev described Biden’s statements as “reasonable” and warned that if his country’s cities were bombed, Russian forces “would have hit the centers of these criminal decisions.”
Ukraine appears to be on the verge of losing Severodonetsk, the easternmost city it once controlled in the Donbass region, to a relentless Russian artillery barrage that has destroyed large parts of a city whose pre-war population of 100,000 people.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, acknowledged late Sunday that “entirely vital infrastructure” and “more than two-thirds of the city’s residential housing” had been completely destroyed, asking for “more modern weapons to defend our land, to defend our people.”
“The disparity in artillery capacity is a key factor that allows Russian ground forces to continue to advance,” said Nick Reynolds, a ground warfare expert at a Russian think tank.
The analyst said that Russian firepower was preventing Ukrainian forces from gathering to launch counterattacks, adding that the MLRS could help Kyiv by “disrupting all kinds of activities in enemy rear areas.”
Last week, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry released a video of what it said was the bombing of its positions with Russian TOS-1A flamethrower missiles in the Donetsk region. Ukraine is ready to respond. To do this, we need a NATO-style MLRS. Immediately ” The ministry brief said on Twitter.
The tracked M270 MLRS, and its equivalent, the M142 High Mobility Artillery Missile System (HIMARS), have a much greater range than anything Ukraine can currently deploy. Its use could allow Kiev to strike Russian targets from behind, although it could expose more of its hinterland to a response.
Ukraine started the war with artillery like Soviet-standard howitzers with a range of about 10 miles, before the US agreed to send 90 NATO-standard M777 artillery pieces to Ukraine. Depending on the shells used, M777s can have a range of up to 25 miles.
Other NATO members may follow the United States’ lead. Ukraine is also pressing the UK to supply some of its M270s, with some sources complaining that Britain has been slowing down. British M270 It has a range of 52 milesalthough the Army’s stock 44 has been upgraded to 93 miles.
Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime minister, said last Friday that the MLRS would enable Ukrainians to “defend themselves against this very brutal Russian artillery, and that’s where the world needs to go”. His comments, a public acknowledgment of Ukraine’s request, fueled expectations with an announcement that could come within days.
Briefings from the US have indicated that the announcement may come later this week, after the Memorial Day holiday on Monday.
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