Skip to content
US prepares to send long-range rocket systems to Ukraine
Placeholder while loading article actions

The Biden administration is preparing to send advanced long-range rocket systems to Ukraine as the country suffers losses in the east from advancing Russian forces, the US administration and members of Congress have said .

The move, which could be announced as early as next week, involves the supply of the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, an American weapon capable of firing a torrent of rockets several kilometers away compared to current Ukrainian capabilities.

The rocket system was a key demand from Ukrainian officials who said it was necessary to stem the advance of Russian forces, which on Friday claimed full control of the strategic eastern town of Lyman, offering Moscow another victory in its offensive in the eastern region of Donbass in Ukraine. . CNN first reported on US preparations to send the system.

The transfer is subject to a final decision by the White House.

Russians face prospect of Soviet-style shortages as sanctions hit

The Kremlin has warned that any country supplying advanced weapons to Ukraine will face severe repercussions. On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the West had “declared total war” on Russia.

The Biden administration is trying to help Kyiv defend itself without provoking Russian retaliation against US forces or their allies. At a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill this week, State Department officials said some White House officials fear providing the MLRS with a range of more than 180 miles could lead Ukrainian forces to fire rockets into Russian territory and cause a major escalation. , according to people familiar with the briefing, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military matters.

State Department officials present at the meeting said those concerns would likely be addressed with Ukrainian leaders. A senior US official said the White House is comfortable providing the MLRS system to Ukraine, but will seek to manage the risk of escalation by withholding longer-range rockets compatible with the system.

Typical rockets fired by these systems have a range of about 43 miles, according to Army data. Specialized rockets called Army Tactical Missile Systems can hit much further at ranges of up to 186 miles. These missiles were used during the Gulf War and the Iraq War in 2003 and are used to pulverize critical infrastructure, such as air defense sites and forward bases.

The White House came under fire Friday from some Republicans for not moving faster with the delivery of the rocket system, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.). “The Biden administration is dragging its feet,” he tweeted.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the Biden administration is not slowing demand.

“I would dispute the idea that there was a heist here,” he told reporters on Friday. He said the United States was moving weapons systems into Ukraine “every day…literally helping them in the fight, including howitzers that are still coming in.”

Alex Horton, Claire Parker and Karoun Demirjian contributed to this report.

washingtonpost

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.