Long-range missiles, but not long enough to attack Russian territory. That is the balance that Washington has found to reinforce the Ukrainian artillery after the requests of the Government of Volodímir Zelenski. The decision, which may represent a significant change in the balance of forces, was announced by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, through an article in The New York Times.
“I have decided that we will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and ammunition that will allow them to more accurately attack key targets on the Ukrainian battlefield,” writes Biden, who has been very careful with his words. This same Monday, Biden indicated that he would not provide the kyiv government with missiles capable of attacking Russian territory. The president was referring to systems with a wider radius of action than those that the Pentagon will send, of up to 70 kilometers, approximately.
These are multiple-launch satellite-guided missile systems that can be moved on board a vehicle, so they are highly mobile. The initials with which the manufacturer calls them are GMLRS and HIMARS. For the Ukrainian Army they can mean a substantial change both in its defense and in preventing Russia from consolidating its positions in the invaded areas. A spokesman for the State Department expressed his concern on the matter this Tuesday: “We continue to be concerned about the measures that Russia is taking to try to institutionalize control over sovereign Ukrainian territory, especially in the Ukrainian region of Kherson,” he said.
Biden believes that the war can only end with a negotiation and thus justifies military support for Ukraine and the additional shipment of these missile systems: “We have rushed to send Ukraine a significant amount of weapons and ammunition so that it can fight in the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.
The new weapons are included in a shipment valued at 700 million dollars within the package of 40,000 million dollars in military, economic and humanitarian aid approved by the United States Congress a few weeks ago. The United States has already sent abundant military material and anti-tank and anti-aircraft equipment has been decisive in stopping the Russian invasion.
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Washington is concerned that the dispatch of longer-range precision missiles will be interpreted in Moscow as an escalation of the conflict. That’s why, in his article, Biden makes it clear that the purpose of those missiles is not to attack Russian territory: “We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” he writes. “As long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not engage directly in this conflict, neither by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine nor by attacking Russian forces. We are not encouraging or allowing Ukraine to attack beyond its borders. We don’t want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia,” Biden says.
The article published by the president of the United States is entitled: “What the United States will and will not do in Ukraine.” Although the main novelty he brings is the shipment of missile systems, he also establishes Washington’s position more clearly than ever before on other matters. Thus, despite the fact that a little over two months ago, Biden said in Poland that Russian President Vladimir Putin could not continue in power, now he proclaims that overthrowing him is not his goal. The State Department had already tried to clarify before that this was a verbal excess by Biden. “As much as he disagrees with Mr. Putin and as much as he considers his actions to be an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his removal from office in Moscow,” he now says in his article.
The president of the United States assures that being on the side of Ukraine “is of vital interest” for the United States. “If Russia does not pay a high price for its actions, it will send a message to other potential aggressors that they, too, can seize territory and subjugate other countries. It will endanger the survival of other peaceful democracies. And it could spell the end of the rules-based international order and open the door for aggression elsewhere, with catastrophic consequences around the world,” he adds.
On his recent tour of Asia, Biden noted that the United States would become involved in defending Taiwan if it were attacked by China. His words initially caused some confusion, because the president seemed to imply that in that case he would be willing to participate directly in the defense of the island. Subsequently, the White House and the State Department had to clarify that the support he was referring to was similar to that provided to Ukraine and that it did not imply a change with respect to its traditional policy on Taiwan.
Biden also addresses the risk of nuclear weapons use in his article: “Currently, we see no indication that Russia intends to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, although Russia’s occasional rhetoric of brandishing nuclear weapons is itself dangerous and extremely irresponsible. Let me be clear: any use of nuclear weapons in this conflict, on any scale, would be completely unacceptable to us, as well as to the rest of the world, and would carry serious consequences,” he notes.