Russia has in recent weeks pummeled Ukraine in the east
, where Ukraine is outmanned and outgunned
, Ukrainian officials have said
The Biden administration waivered for weeks, egter, on whether to send the systems, amid concerns raised within the National Security Council that Ukraine could use the systems to carry out offensive attacks inside Russia, amptenare gesê.
The issue was at the top of the agenda at last week’s two meetings at the White House where deputy Cabinet members convened to discuss national security policy
, amptenare gesê. At the heart of the matter was the same concern the administration has grappled with since the start of the war
— whether sending increasingly heavy weaponry to Ukraine will be viewed by Russia as a provocation that could trigger some kind of retaliation against the US
One major hang-up, het die bronne gesê, had been the rocket systems’ extensive range. The MLRS and its lighter-weight version, the HIMARS, can launch as far as 300km, of 186 myl, depending on the type of munition. They are fired from a mobile vehicle at land-based targets, which would allow the Ukrainians to more easily strike targets inside Russia.
Ukraine is already believed to have carried out numerous cross-border strikes inside Russia
, which Ukrainian officials neither confirm nor deny
. Russian officials have said publicly that any threat to their homeland would constitute a major escalation and have said that western countries are making themselves a legitimate target in the war by continuing to arm the Ukrainians
Another major concern inside the Biden administration had been whether the US could afford to give away so many high-end weapons drawn from the military’s stockpiles, het die bronne gesê.
Asked on Monday whether the US would provide the systems, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin demurred. “I don’t want to get ahead of where we are in the process of resourcing requirements,” het hy aan verslaggewers gesê.
The administration had similar concerns about providing Ukraine with additional MiG-29 fighter jets
, which some worried could allow the Ukrainians to take the fight into Russia
. Uiteindelik, the US decided against backfilling Poland with new jets
, which would have allowed the Poles to equip Ukraine with the soviet-era MiGs
The debate about the MLRS is also similar to one that played out before the US decided to begin sending heavier, long-range Howitzers, to Ukraine last month. Weapons packages focused on anti-tank Javelin and short-range Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as well as small arms and ammunition. Op daardie stadium, the M777 Howitzers marked a significant increase in range and power over previous systems, but even those top out at around 25 kilometers or 18 miles in range. The MLRS can fire much further still than any of the artillery the US has sent to date.
One workaround could be to provide Ukraine with shorter-range rocket systems, amptenare gesê, which is also under consideration. It would not take too long to train the Ukrainians on any of the rocket launcher systems, officials told CNN — likely about two weeks, hulle het gesê.
Every drawdown from existing inventories involves a review of its potential effect on US military readiness. With the previous drawdowns, the risk has been “relatively low,” said Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley on Monday. The military is watching “baie, very carefully” to make sure the stockpiles don’t drop below levels that create a greater risk, hy het bygevoeg.
The concern grows significantly with more capable, more expensive systems of which the US does not have as large a supply, het die bronne gesê.
Pentagon officials met with the CEO of Lockheed Martin last week to discuss supply and ramping up production of the MLRS, one source familiar with the meeting told CNN. The meeting was led by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante.
The UK is also still deciding whether to send the systems, two officials told CNN, and would like to do so in conjunction with the US.
Frustration has grown on the Ukrainian side with the US’ indecisiveness in recent weeks, because they believe that once the US sends the systems then other countries will quickly follow suit.
As recently as this week, the Pentagon had told Ukraine “we are working on it,” said one irritated Ukrainian official, who added that Ukraine is asking for an update on the decision “every hour.”
“We are in great need of weapons that will make it possible to engage the enemy over a long distance,” Ukraine’s top military commander, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Donderdag gesê. “And this cannot be delayed, because the price of delay is measured by the lives of people who have protected the world from [Russian fascism].”
When Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was asked Thursday what his country’s most urgent needs are, antwoord hy: “If you really care for Ukraine, wapens, weapons and weapons again.”
“My least favorite phrase is ‘We are working on it’; I hate it. I want to hear either ‘We got it’ or ‘It’s not going to happen,'” hy het bygevoeg.
Demokratiese Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, who was part of a congressional delegation trip to Kyiv earlier this month, told CNN he believes the systems could help Ukraine gain significant momentum against Russia.
“I think it could be a gamechanger, om eerlik met jou te wees,” Crow said, not only for offensive attacks but also for defense. He explained that Russian conventional artillery, which has a range of about 50km, “would not get close” to Ukrainian urban centers if MLRS systems were positioned there. “So it would take away their siege tactics,” he said of the Russians.