The US is preparing to send advanced, long-range rocket systems that can change the trajectory of the war against Russia , new reports say.
The Biden administration is reportedly planning to send the weapons systems as part of a larger package of military and security assistance to Ukraine, which could be announced as soon as next week.
A Friday, May 27 report by CNN says top Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have recently begged the US and its allies to provide the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS.
The MLRS is a US-made weapon systems that can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of kilometers — much farther than any of the systems Ukraine already has.
The report adds that another system Ukraine has asked for is the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS, a lighter wheeled system capable of firing many of the same types of ammunition as MLRS.
The MLRS and its lighter-weight version, the HIMARS, can launch as far as 300km, or 186 miles, depending on the type of munition.
Russia has in recent weeks used the long range systems to attack Ukraine in the east, where Ukraine is outmanned and outgunned, Ukrainian officials have said but receiving any of the above named weapons would be a ‘game changer’s for Ukraine, Ukranian officials have said.
The US in the past has refused sending long range weapons and war planes to Ukraine, amid concerns raised within the National Security Council that Ukraine could use the systems to carry out offensive attacks inside Russia, officials said.
The report says the US fears that sending heavy weaponry to Ukraine will be viewed by Russia as a provocation that could trigger some kind of retaliation against the US.
Russian officials have said publicly that any threat to their homeland would constitute a major escalation and have said that western countries are making themselves a legitimate target in the war by continuing to arm the Ukrainians.
Ukraine is already believed to have carried out numerous cross-border strikes inside Russia, which Ukrainian officials neither confirm nor deny.
Asked this week whether the US would provide the long range weapons systems to Ukraine, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin replied. “I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the process of resourcing requirements,”
The report adds that the UK is also still deciding whether to send the systems, but would like to do so in conjunction with the US.
The report adds that as recently as this week, the Pentagon had told Ukraine “we are working on it,” said one irritated Ukrainian official, who added that Ukraine is asking for an update on the decision “every hour.”
“We are in great need of weapons that will make it possible to engage the enemy over a long distance,” Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, said Thursday, May 26.
“And this cannot be delayed, because the price of delay is measured by the lives of people who have protected the world from [Russian fascism].”