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U.S. Will Send More Advanced Rocket Systems to Ukraine, Biden Says

WASHINGTON — President Biden said on Tuesday that the United States would send Ukraine advanced rocket systems and munitions that would enable it to more precisely target Russian military assets inside its borders.

In an Op-Ed published online Tuesday evening by The New York Times, Mr. Biden said the delivery of the advanced rocket systems would enable Ukraine to “fight on the battlefield and be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.”

Mr. Biden’s administration has already sent Ukraine billions of dollars worth of antitank and antiaircraft missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and other military equipment as the country seeks to repel Russia’s three-month-old invasion.

As the war has dragged on, the Biden administration has progressively widened the array of weaponry it has provided to the Ukrainians. But top administration officials have been concerned about provoking a broader war with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia by providing weapons that could allow Ukraine to strike deep inside his country.

In his article, Mr. Biden stressed that the new rockets would be used to “strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.” And he said the United States was not seeking to engage Russia in a broader conflict.

He stated bluntly that he did not seek to overthrow Mr. Putin, despite his off-the-cuff remarks during a speech in Poland earlier this year, when he said the Russian president “cannot remain in power.”

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden presented a different view.

“We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia,” he said. “As much as I disagree with Mr. Putin, and find his actions an outrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow.”

He added: “So long as the United States or our allies are not attacked, we will not be directly engaged in this conflict, either by sending American troops to fight in Ukraine or by attacking Russian forces.”

Mr. Biden had told reporters on Monday that “we’re not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia.”

Officials have not supplied details on exactly which types of rockets the United States will provide. The one used most often by the Pentagon is the M31 GMLRS — for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System — a satellite-guided precision weapon that carries roughly the same explosive power as a 500-pound bomb dropped from the air.

It can fly more than 40 miles, well beyond the range of any artillery Ukraine now uses. According to a report published by the Congressional Research Service in June, the Pentagon has spent approximately $5.4 billion to buy more than 42,000 such rockets since 1998.

But Mr. Biden made clear in his Op-Ed on Tuesday that the administration was ready to provide more advanced weapons to Ukraine as the Russian military makes gains in the eastern part of the country.

“Standing by Ukraine in its hour of need is not just the right thing to do,” he wrote. “It is in our vital national interests to ensure a peaceful and stable Europe and to make it clear that might does not make right.”

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