According to various individuals, the US under the Biden government is planning to increase the type of weapons it is supplying Ukraine by deploying modern, long-range rocket launchers, which are now the top priority of Ukrainian officials.
The government is considering providing the equipment to Ukraine as part of a larger package of military and security aid that may be disclosed as early as next week.
President Volodymyr Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials have lobbied with the US and its supporters to provide the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, in recent weeks. The US-made weapon systems can fire a volley of rockets hundreds of kilometers away, far beyond any of Ukraine’s existing capabilities, which the Ukrainians believe might prove a game-changer in their fight.
The HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), a lighter-wheeled system capable of shooting many of the same types of weapons as the MLRS, is yet another system Ukraine has requested.
Ukraine has been hammered by Russia in the east over the last week, according to Ukrainian officials, where Ukraine is outmatched and outgunned.
Officials claimed the Biden government debated whether to transfer the systems for weeks because of worries voiced inside the National Security Council that Ukraine may use the new weaponry to launch aggressive assaults within Russia.
Russians cautioned on Friday, after CNN first revealed the revelation, that supplying the systems to Ukraine would “reach a red line.”
“The US plans to debate the topic of providing Ukraine with these weapons as early as next week,” Olga Skabeeva, a well-known Russian TV anchor, claimed on her high-profile show on the state network Rossiya-1. “At the present, the matter is being addressed by the Trump administration in the United States.
As a result, we’re no longer discussing tactical weapons, but operational-tactical weapons.”She went on to say: “The US MLRS can fire shells up to 500 kilometers away.” And if the Americans do this, they will have obviously crossed a red line, and we will have evidence of an effort to trigger a very serious conflict.
Skabeeva does not represent the Kremlin, but her opinions often mirror official thinking.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina reacted to CNN’s findings on Twitter on Friday, saying he was angry that the Biden government was “dragging their feet” in delivering the rocket systems to Ukraine.
Outgoing Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Friday that no ultimate ruling on the MLRS has been made yet. “We’re clearly aware of Ukrainian requests for what’s known as a multiple launch rocket system, both privately and officially. And I’m not going to make any assumptions about judgments that haven’t been taken yet “Throughout a press conference, Kirby told reporters.
Sources said the subject of whether or not to provide the rocket systems was at the top of the priority list at two White House sessions last week as deputy Cabinet members met to debate national security strategy. The issue at hand was the same one that the government has been grappling with since the beginning of the war: whether delivering increasingly heavy equipment to Ukraine will be seen by Russia as a provocation, prompting retribution against the US.
The enormous range of the rocket systems had been a key stumbling block, according to the sources. Based on the kind of munition, the MLRS and its lighter-weight version, the HIMARS, can deploy as far as 300 kilometers (186 miles). They are launched from a mobile truck against land-based targets, allowing the Ukrainians to attack targets inside Russia with more ease.
Ukraine is suspected of carrying out a number of cross-border strikes within Russia, which Ukrainian officials have yet to acknowledge or condemn. Russian officials have publicly stated that any danger to their nation would be a serious increase and that by continuing to equip the Ukrainians, western countries are declaring themselves a legitimate target in the war.
According to the insiders, another big concern within the Biden government was if the US could afford to send away so many high-end weapons taken from the military’s inventories.
When questioned if the US could provide systems on Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declined. He told reporters, “I don’t want to get before of where we are in the course of financing requirements.”
The government had similar reservations about sending more MiG-29 fighter fighters to Ukraine, which some feared would allow the Ukrainians to take the fight to Russia. In the end, the US opted against providing new jets to Poland, which would have allowed the Poles to arm Ukraine with Soviet-era MiGs.
The MLRS discussion is reminiscent of the one that raged before the US chose to supply heavier, longer-range Howitzers to Ukraine last month. Small weapons and ammunition, as well as anti-tank Javelin and short-range Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, were included in the weaponry shipments. The M777 Howitzers provided a major boost in range and capacity over earlier weapons at the time, but even they only have a range of roughly 25 kilometers (18 miles). The MLRS can fire significantly further than any of the US artillery that has been deployed so far. According to officials, one workaround could be to give Ukraine shorter-range rocket systems, which is also being considered. It would not take long to teach the Ukrainians any of these skills.
Each decline in existing stocks necessitates a consideration of the impact on US combat capability. The risk has been “quite modest” in prior drawdowns, according to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley. He added that the army is looking “very, very closely” to ensure that stocks don’t fall below levels that pose a higher risk.
According to the sources, the risk develops dramatically with more competent, more expensive equipment, of which the US does not have a huge supply.
According to a person familiar with the conversation, Pentagon officials met with Lockheed Martin’s CEO last week to review supply and scaling up manufacturing of the MLRS. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante presided over the meeting.
The dissatisfaction on the Ukrainian side has intensified in the past weeks as a result of the US’ cluelessness since they fear that once the US deploys the systems, other nations will rapidly fall into line.
“We are working on it,” the Pentagon told Ukraine just this week, according to one frustrated Ukrainian official, who added that Ukraine is requesting information on the outcome “every hour.”
General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Ukraine’s top military commander, stated Thursday that “we are in desperate need of weaponry that would allow us to combat the adversary over a long distance.” “And this cannot be postponed because the cost of postponement is calculated in the lives of those who have defended the world against Russian fascism.”
When asked what his country’s most pressing needs are, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba replied, “If you truly care about Ukraine, guns, weapons, and weapons again.”
“‘We’re working on it is my least favorite phrase; I despise it. ‘We got it,’ or ‘It’s not going to happen,’ is what I want to know “He went on to say. Colorado Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, who was a member of a congressional delegation that visited Kyiv earlier this month, told CNN that the technologies might help Ukraine gain substantial momentum against Russia.
“To be honest with you, I think it might be a game-changer,” Crow remarked, referring to both offensive and defensive attacks. He said that if MLRS systems were deployed in Ukraine, Russian conventional artillery, which has a range of around 50 kilometers, “would not approach close.” He stated of the Russians, “It would take away their siege techniques.”