Defense

US to transfer long-range rocket systems to Ukraine amid Donbas struggle: reports

The U.S. will transfer long-range rocket systems to Ukraine to aid the country’s fight against Russia in the Donbas region, officials told multiple outlets. 

Ukrainian officials have been asking the U.S. to send the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) or the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), CNN first reported, citing U.S. officials.

The weapons would be a significant improvement from Ukraine’s current artillery — an MLRS is able to fire hundreds of kilometers away and HIMARS is able to fire the same type of ammunition as an MLRS.

Defense officials did not specify to The New York Times what kind of weapons transfer would be announced. However, the outlet noted that the transfer would likely be made next week.

The Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System is the most common system that the U.S. uses.  

“Certainly we’re mindful and aware of Ukrainian asks, privately and publicly, for what is known as a multiple launch rocket system. And I won’t get ahead of decisions that haven’t been made yet,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday.

The Defense Department told The Hill they have nothing further to add beyond Kirby’s comments. 

The officials told the Times the Biden administration has been hesitant to provide Ukraine with these types of weapons as it could be seen as provocation by Russia.

According to CNN, prominent Russian commentators decried any weapons transfer shortly after the new outlet’s report.

“The U.S. intends to discuss the issue of supplying Ukraine with these weapons as soon as next week,” Olga Skabeeva, a prominent Russian TV host, said on her show. “At the present moment, the issue is being addressed by the U.S. presidential administration. So now, we are not even talking about tactical weapons anymore, but about the operational-tactical weapons.”

“The U.S. MLRS can launch shells over 500 kilometers. And if the Americans do this, they will clearly cross a red line, and we will record an attempt to provoke a very harsh response from Russia.”

The war in Ukraine has continued for more than three months, with Russian forces currently focusing their efforts on the Donbas region after they failed to take over the capital city of Kyiv.

Tags John Kirby John Kirby Russia-Ukraine war

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