President Biden said, on Tuesday, that the United States will send to Ukraine advanced missile systems and munitions that will enable it to target Russian military assets with greater accuracy within its borders.
in editorial Posted online Tuesday night by The New York Times, Mr. Biden said the delivery of advanced missile systems would enable Ukraine to “fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.”
The Biden administration has already sent Ukraine billions of dollars worth of anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other military equipment as the country seeks to fend off a three-month-old Russian invasion.
As the war dragged on, the Biden administration gradually expanded the range of weapons it provided the Ukrainians. But senior administration officials were concerned about provoking a wider war with Russian President Vladimir Putin by providing weapons that would allow Ukraine to strike deep into his country.
In his article, Mr. Biden emphasized that the new missiles would be used “to strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine”. He said the United States was not seeking to involve Russia in a broader conflict.
He has stated frankly that he is not seeking to oust Mr. Putin, despite his informal remarks during a speech in Poland earlier this year, when he said the Russian president “cannot stay in power”.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden offered a different view.
“We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” he said. “As much as I do not agree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions outrageous, the United States will not attempt to cause his ouster in Moscow.”
“As long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly involved in this conflict, whether by sending American forces to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces,” he added.
Biden told reporters on Monday, “We will not send to Ukraine missile systems that can hit Russia.”
Officials did not provide details about the types of missiles the United States would provide. Most commonly used by the Pentagon is the M31 GMLRS – Guided Multiple Missile System – a precision satellite-guided weapon with roughly the same explosive power as a 500-pound air-dropped bomb.
It can fly more than 40 miles, which is far beyond the range of any artillery used by Ukraine now. According to a report published by the Congressional Research Service in June, the Pentagon has spent about $5.4 billion to purchase more than 42,000 such missiles since 1998.
But Mr. Biden made clear in his op-ed on Tuesday that the administration is ready to provide more advanced weapons to Ukraine as the Russian military makes gains in the eastern part of the country.
“Standing with Ukraine in its time of need is not the only right thing to do,” he wrote. “It is in our vital national interest to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that this may not be corrected.”