President Joe Biden in his latest update announced that the US will send Ukraine more advanced longer-range rocket systems to help it defend itself.
The weapons, long requested by Ukraine, are to help it strike enemy forces more precisely from a longer distance. Until now, the US held back on the request over fears that the weapons could be used against targets in Russia.
But on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, Mr. Biden said the lethal aid would rather, strengthen Kyiv’s (Ukraine’s capital) negotiating position against Russia and make a diplomatic solution more likely. Published in an American-based media outlet, he said: “That is why I’ve decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine”.
The ability of the new Weaponry
According to a Senior White House official, the new weaponry will include the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), although the exact number to be supplied is not specified.
Experts said the systems can launch multiple precision-guided missiles at targets as far as 70km (45 miles) away, which is far further than the artillery currently being used by Ukraine. In addition, the systems are believed to be more accurate than their Russian equivalents. Last month, (May 2022) Ukraine’s Army Chief said that getting the HIMARS units would be “crucial” in allowing it to counter Russian missile attacks.
Area of Weapons Deployment
The US expects Ukraine to deploy the weapons in the Eastern Donbas region, where the fighting is most intense, and where they can be used to strike Russian artillery units and forces targeting Ukrainian towns.
According to White House officials, an agreement was reached to provide the rockets, only after gaining assurances from President Volodomyr Zelenskyy (Ukraine’s President) that the weapons would not be used to attack targets inside Russia. “We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia,” Mr. Biden noted on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
The latest rockets will be the centrepiece of a $700m (£556m) support package for Ukraine that will be officially unveiled on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, White House officials disclosed. Helicopters, anti-tank weapons, tactical vehicles and spare parts are to be included in what will be the 11th package of military aid approved by the US for Ukraine since the invasion began on Thursday, February 24, 2022.
A Goal of Clean Conscience
In Wednesday’s (June 1, 2022) article, Mr. Biden stated that the US’s goal is simply to see a “democratic, independent, sovereign” Ukraine, not to oust Mr. Putin from his role as Russian President or to seek broader conflict with Moscow.
However, he blamed Russia’s continued aggression for the stalling of peace efforts, adding that the US would never put pressure on Ukraine to concede any of its territory in return for an end to the conflict. Directly addressing the risk of nuclear weapons being used in Ukraine, Mr. Biden said “we currently see no indication” of this being Russia’s intention, but warned that doing so would be unacceptable and would come with “severe consequences”.
The Beginning of a Nuclear Drill
Soon after Mr. Biden’s piece was published, a media outlet reported that Russian military officials have announced that the country’s nuclear forces are holding drills in Ivanovo province near Moscow.
Previously, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, accused the West of “pumping up the Ukrainian nationalists with weapons” and said that any cargo of arms bound for Ukraine would become a legitimate target for Moscow. The Ministry said NATO member countries are “playing with fire” by sending weapons to Ukraine. Meanwhile, in Ukraine, fighting is ongoing in the Eastern Donbas region.
On Tuesday, May 31, 2022, the Governor of Luhansk intimated that one of Ukraine’s last holdouts in the region, which is the Eastern city of Severodonetsk, was now mostly under Moscow’s control. Russian forces now occupy almost all of Luhansk and are focusing on seizing neighbouring Donetsk, the two regions which collectively make up Donbas.
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