The White House said Tuesday that US President Joe Biden and his team were still considering sending long-range rocket systems to Ukraine but did not want to launch an attack inside Russian territory.
U.S. officials say an announcement is expected soon, possibly early Wednesday, that Biden and his national security aides are in the final stages of preparing a new weapons package for Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials are asking allies for a long-range system, including the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, which could launch rocket barrages hundreds of miles away in hopes of turning the tide in a three-month war.
White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the measure was under consideration.
“But as the president has said, we will not send long-range rockets to Ukraine for use outside the battlefield,” he said. Other U.S. officials have said that Biden does not want to enter Russia’s territory to prevent the Ukraine war from escalating.
Biden told reporters on Tuesday that “we are not going to send a rocket system to Ukraine that would hit Russia.”
He did not deny the existence of any specific weapons, but sought to establish a condition on how they could be used. Biden and his team are working on a new package of military equipment using some of the money from the $ 40 million budget allocation approved by the US Congress.
The MLRS was under consideration, but there was nothing beyond the use of the battlefield, including long-range strike capabilities, a senior administration official said.
Biden wants to help Ukraine defend itself, but Ukraine opposes the supply of weapons that could be used to attack Russia.
Thousands have been killed and millions more displaced in Ukraine since Russia’s February 24 invasion, which Moscow has called a “special military operation” to “expel” its neighbor. Ukraine and its Western allies have called it a baseless excuse for war over territory.
The West is increasingly willing to supply Ukraine with long-range weapons, including the M777 Howitzer, because its strength in the war with the Russians is greater than the intelligence officials had predicted.
But U.S. intelligence has also warned of growing risks, especially the discrepancy between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s clear ambitions and the performance of his military.
Ukraine has begun receiving Harpoon anti-ship missiles from Denmark and self-propelled howitzers from the United States, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday.
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