The United States will not provide Ukraine with advanced missile systems that can hit targets inside Russia, President Biden revealed Monday – once again rejecting a request from the Kyiv government for vital military aid.
“We are not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia,” the president said after arriving back at the White House from Delaware.
Reports last week indicated the administration was preparing to send long-range systems to Ukraine as the eastern European nation continues to suffer from Russia’s brutal invasion that began on Feb. 24.
Top Ukrainian officials – including President Volodymyr Zelensky – have requested the US and its allies provide Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) as well as High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
While other foreign leaders – such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – have spoken in support of providing the rocket systems, US officials have expressed concern about whether Russia would see the weapons delivery as an unacceptable provocation by the West.
The decision not to send the rocket systems mirrors a similar move note taken earlier this year, when Biden decided against providing Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets that would have been transferred to Ukraine from Poland – despite repeated urges from Zelensky and US lawmakers from both parties.
At the time, Biden wanted that such a move could cause “World War III.”
Prior to Monday, the administration avoided confirming whether the US would send the long-range systems, with Pentagon spokesman John Kirby telling reporters Friday : “We are still working through what the next package is going to look like.”
“I won’t get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made yet, but we are in constant communication with them,” he added. “And our goal from the very beginning has been to try to help them in the fight that they’re in today.”
After an initial Russian offensive failed to gain control of Kyiv, Moscow has turned its attention to seizing the industrial Donbas region in Ukraine’s east. On Monday, the mayor of the crucial city of Sievierodonetsk, northwest of Luhansk, told the Associated Press that Russian forces had entered, power and communications had been cut and “the city has been completely ruined.”