“We are not going to send rocket systems to Ukraine that can hit inside Russia,” Joe Biden told reporters Monday morning.
American media had claimed in recent days that Washington was preparing the delivery of long-range multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to kyiv, after Congress approved an additional $ 40 billion in aid to Ukraine. .
But Pentagon spokesman John Kirby had not confirmed the dispatch of the MLRS M270s – highly mobile modern vehicles with a firing range of 300 km.
A second type of system had been mentioned: the Himars, with a range of 70 to 150 km – far superior to the batteries of M777 howitzers, which are currently delivered to kyiv and whose effective range does not exceed 40 km.
A US official said Monday that sending MLRS systems was still under consideration, but without long-range strike capabilities, which would allow use outside the battlefield.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham reacted on Monday by calling President Joe Biden’s decision “a betrayal of Ukraine and democracy itself.” “Apparently the Biden administration is once again intimidated by Russian rhetoric,” he tweeted.
Ukrainian forces are currently struggling in the Donbass, where the Russian offensive has intensified around key towns. Russian forces advanced towards the center of Severodonetsk, which had been shelled for weeks.
In this context, Ukrainian officials repeated their demands for the delivery of more heavy weapons from the West: “Some partners avoid giving the necessary weapons for fear of escalation. Escalation, really? Russia is already using the heaviest non-nuclear weapons, burns people alive. Maybe it’s time (…) to give us (multiple rocket launchers) MLRS? .
These mobile units capable of sending several rockets simultaneously are “really the weapon that we badly need”, also declared last week in Davos the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba.
“Countries that are dragging their feet on supplying heavy weapons to Ukraine, they have to understand that every day they spend deciding, weighing different arguments, people are being killed,” he added.