Biden says US won’t send Ukrainian rocket systems that can reach Russia

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President Biden said on Monday that the United States would not send rocket systems to Ukraine that could potentially reach Russia, after reports that the administration was preparing to send long-range systems to Ukraine. embattled European ally.

Several media outlets had reported that the administration was keen to send advanced long-range rocket systems to Ukraine, which is currently fending off an invasion from Moscow — and to which the United States provides significant economic and military support.

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Biden was asked about the potential move of journalists outside the White House and said his administration would not send Ukrainian rocket systems that would hit Russia.

The Washington Post reported that the administration is considering providing the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), which would allow the Ukrainians to fire rockets much farther than they currently can.

The MLRS was reportedly a key demand of Ukrainian officials, who say they need it to halt the advance of Russian forces in the east, which took control of the key town of Lyman last week.

May 30, 2022: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington after returning from Wilmington, Del.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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May 30, 2022: President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington after returning from Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The Washington Post reported that the State Department said the White House was concerned that supplying Ukraine with the MLRS could lead to a situation in which the Ukrainians fire rockets into Russian territory, which would trigger a major escalation of the conflict. Officials are said to have considered risk management by withholding some of the longer-range rockets available.

Russia has strongly opposed attempts by the West to supply arms to Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to French and German leaders on Saturday and warned against continued arms transfers to Ukraine.

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Meanwhile, Russia’s ambassador to the United States had said that any move by the United States to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine would be “unacceptable” and demanded that “Washington not take such a step provocative”.

Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and author of ‘Putin’s Playbook,’ said sending these systems to Ukraine would be seen as an escalation by Moscow, which carries significant risks and a potential Russian response. .

“Whether we believe in climbing the climbing ladder or not, it doesn’t matter, it’s how the Russians perceive it, because they act on it,” she said.

Koffler said another motivation for Biden could be concern over how the systems would be used by Ukrainians.

“Maybe he doesn’t trust [Ukrainian President] Zelenskyy to use systems wisely because Zelenskyy has been very clear that he doesn’t want to cede any land to Russia, he doesn’t want to compromise at all, and he even wants to take back Crimea, which is enough unlikely,” “And the fear is probably that Ukraine could abuse that, causing it to escalate out of control and potentially dragging the US into the conflict and potentially triggering Russian cyberattacks on US territory to deter us, and things may just get out of control pretty quickly.”

She also noted that Russia had sought to dissuade Washington from sending the systems to Ukraine by testing a hypersonic missile this week.

“This test of highly advanced technology was almost certainly Moscow’s signal to Washington that Russia would be willing to take this conflict to the next level on the escalation ladder if Ukraine is equipped with weapons that far exceed its capabilities. current capabilities,” she said.

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The Biden administration had been criticized by hawkish Republicans for not moving quickly enough to deliver the systems to Ukraine. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R.S.C., said the administration had “dragged its feet” on the Ukrainian request.

“Apparently providing Ukraine with this new capability is raising concerns among some in the Biden administration that it will be seen as provocation and escalation in Putin’s eyes,” he tweeted.

“It’s time to stop Putin from dictating the actions of the free world.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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