President Joe Biden announced on Monday that the United States will not be providing rocket systems to Ukraine that have the capability to reach Russia, downplaying reports that the White House was planning to provide the long-range missiles to Ukrainian forces battling a Russian invasion in its fourth month.
Asked about whether he would authorize the transfer of long range missile systems by reporters outside the White House, Biden said that he would not be ordering the transfer of weapons that could reach into Russia, Fox News reported.
The question was prompted by a report in the Washington Post that said the White House was considering sending to Ukraine the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). The system would give Ukraine the capability to launch missiles into Russia for the first time. The system had allegedly been requested by the Ukrainian government, who said it was needed to fight Russian forces advancing in the eastern part of the country, where last week they took the strategically important city of Lyman.
But the State Department said the White House was worried that giving the Ukrainians MLRS could escalate into the country firing rockets into Russia, which would results in a major expansion of the war.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. said that any measures taken by the White House to provide long range missile systems to Ukraine would be “unacceptable” and demanded assurances that Washing would not “take such a provocative step."
The Biden administration was slammed by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for not providing the missile systems to Ukraine.
“Give Ukraine the rocket system and other weapons they need to take the fight to Russia,” Graham said on Twitter. “I’m hoping there is a breakthrough soon at the Pentagon on this issue. I will stay on top of this and work to give Ukraine the tools they need to defend and protect their homeland.”
Graham added: “Unfortunately, still some in Biden Administration resistant to the idea of a Ukraine victory over Russia as too provocative.”