International weapons helping the fight in Ukraine 3:19
(WABNEWS) — President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the United States is providing Ukraine with “more advanced missile systems and munitions” as its war with Russia progresses.
In an opinion piece by New York TimesBiden said the US goal is “to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.”RELATED
He said the new weapons shipment “would allow them to hit key targets more accurately on the battlefield in Ukraine.”
Senior administration officials confirmed to reporters Tuesday that the United States will send Ukraine US-made high-mobility artillery missile systems as part of the 11th US security assistance package to Ukraine.
The officials said the systems the United States is sending to Ukraine will be equipped with munitions that will allow Ukraine to launch missiles up to 78 kilometers. That is far less than the maximum range of the systems, but far greater than anything that has been sent to Ukraine to date.
The new security assistance package, to be officially announced on Wednesday, will also include aerial surveillance radars, additional Javelin anti-tank weapons, anti-armor weapons, artillery shells, helicopters, tactical vehicles and spare parts to help Ukrainians continue to maintain equipment. officials said.
Still, Biden tried to make clear what the US goals were in Ukraine and was careful to point out that the US does not seek to directly engage Russia.
“We are not looking for a war between NATO and Russia. As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin and find his actions outrageous, the United States will not seek to bring about his overthrow in Moscow,” Biden said, roughly two months after declaring in Warsaw, Poland, that Russian President Vladimir Putin , “cannot stay in power.”
The new security assistance comes as Russia has struck Ukraine in the east, where the country is outnumbered and outgunned, Ukrainian officials said. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly asked world leaders for more weapons and equipment.
WABNEWS previously reported that US officials debated for weeks whether to send the advanced missile systems to Ukraine because they can strike much further than any weapons they already have. The long range of the weapons, technically capable of attacking Russian territory, raised concerns that Russia might view the shipments as a provocation.
“As long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not directly engage in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces,” Biden wrote in the op-ed. “We are not encouraging or allowing Ukraine to attack beyond its borders. We don’t want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.”
Last Friday, a prominent Russian TV presenter warned that sending long-range missile systems to Ukraine would “cross a red line” that would “provoke a very harsh response from Russia.” But the Biden administration made it clear that he would not send ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems that can penetrate deep into sovereign Russian territory.
“I think the US position is to want to provide as much assistance as we can to the Ukrainians without escalating the situation to the point where the war boils over or, frankly, goes in a terrible direction,” said Christine Wormuth, the Secretary of the Army.
Meanwhile, the US has accepted some risk to its own preparedness by continuing to ship weapons from Defense Department inventories to Ukraine, Wormuth said, but not a risk the Pentagon sees as too high.
“We’ve really leaned into trying to provide everything that lawmakers feel is essential to reach Ukrainians. And we’ve taken some risks for our own preparedness, it’s not an unacceptable level of risk at all, but I think we’ll continue to do that,” he said. while speaking at an Atlantic Council event on the Army’s role in the National Defense Strategy.
The president said US officials “currently see no indication that Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, although Russia’s occasional rhetoric to shake the nuclear saber is itself dangerous and grossly irresponsible.”
“Let me be clear: any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict on any scale would be completely unacceptable to us and the rest of the world and would carry serious consequences,” Biden wrote.
WABNEWS’s Oren Libermann, Jim Sciutto and Alex Marquardt contributed to this report.