US to send advanced rocket systems to Ukraine

Russia At War

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden said in a guest essay Tuesday evening in The New York Times that he’s decided to provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield.

The expectation is that Ukraine could use the rockets in the eastern Donbas region, where they could both intercept Russian artillery and take out Russian positions in towns where fighting is intense, such as Sievierodonetsk.

That town 90 miles south of the Russian border is in an area that is the last pocket under Ukrainian government control in the Luhansk region of the Donbas.

In his New York Times’ essay, Biden said the U.S. is not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders and does not want to prolong the war “just to inflict pain on Russia.”

U.S. officials familiar with the decision did not detail how much the aid will cost, but it will be the 11th package approved so far and will be the first to tap the $40 billion in assistance recently passed by Congress.

Germany is also sending weapons to Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz says his country will supply Ukraine with modern anti-aircraft missiles and radar systems, stepping up arms deliveries amid criticism that Germany isn’t doing enough to help Kyiv.

Scholz told German lawmakers on Wednesday that the government has decided to provide Ukraine with IRIS-T missiles developed by Germany together with other NATO nations.

He said Germany will also supply Ukraine with radar systems to help locate enemy artillery.

The announcements come amid claims at home and abroad that Germany has been slow to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend itself against Russia.

In southern Ukraine, a regional governor Ukraine says Russian troops are retreating and blowing up bridges to obstruct a possible Ukrainian advance.

Mykolayiv region Gov. Vitaliy Kim claimed Wednesday on the Telegram messaging app that Russia was on the defensive.

“They are afraid of a breakthrough by the (Ukrainian Armed Forces), but we are not afraid and we support our troops,” he wrote.

Kim didn’t specify exactly where the retreat he described was happening. The parts of the Mykolayiv region which have been held by Russian forces in recent days are close to the large Russia-occupied city of Kherson.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Tuesday that Ukrainian fighters had seen “some success in the Kherson direction.”

Russia is concentrating most of its military power on trying to capture all of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

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