President Joe Biden salutes during a U.S. Coast Guard change of command ceremony on Wednesday at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo
June 1 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden's administration will send millions of dollars worth of defense equipment, including high-tech missile systems, to Ukraine to help the country ward off aggression by Russian forces.
Biden and administration officials announced the moves late on Tuesday, which are part of roughly $700 million in military aid that includes the medium-range missile systems, helicopters, Javelin anti-tank weapon systems, other vehicles and spare parts.
"The people of Ukraine continue to inspire the world with their courage and resolve as they fight bravely to defend their country and their democracy against Russian aggression," Biden said in a statement Wednesday. "The United States will stand with our Ukrainian partners and continue to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to defend itself.
"This new package will arm them with new capabilities and advanced weaponry, including HIMARS with battlefield munitions, to defend their territory from Russian advances. We will continue to lead the world in providing historic assistance to support Ukraine's fight for freedom."
Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have long been pleading for some of the equipment to help them fend off Russian fighters across Ukraine. The fighting began in late February and is now in its fourth month.
Biden detailed the military shipments on Tuesday in a New York Times op-ed, in which he said the United States will deliver M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems with target ranges of about 50 miles.
"As the war goes on, I want to be clear about the aims of the United States in these efforts," Biden wrote in the op-ed, which is titled "What America Will and Will Not Do in Ukraine."
"America's goal is straightforward: We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression."
Biden's announcement came as Russian forces continued to make advances in key parts of eastern Ukraine known as the Donbas. Severodonetsk was one of the region's largest cities that had remained under Ukrainian control. That, however, has changed.
Biden promised to send Ukraine advanced weaponry -- including Javelin anti-tank missiles (pictured), Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters and ammunition. File Photo by U.S. Marine Corps/Michelle Reif/UPI
Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday that Russia now controls about 70% of the hub city in Luhansk. The Donbas, which is comprised of Luhansk and Donetsk, is now the main focus of Russia's war in Ukraine.
While the longer-range weapons from the United States give Ukraine the capability to strike Russia from within its borders, Biden said in his op-ed that they are being given to Ukraine strictly for defensive purposes. He added that using them to strike targets inside Russia could prolong the war.
"We do not seek a war between NATO and Russia," Biden wrote in the Times op-ed. "As much as I disagree with [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and find his actions anoutrage, the United States will not try to bring about his ouster in Moscow.
"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."
Biden noted in the op-ed that the weapons shipments are intended to give Ukraine more strength at the bargaining table.
"We will provide the Ukrainians with more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine," he wrote.
"We will continue cooperating with our allies and partners on Russian sanctions, the toughest ever imposed on a major economy. We will continue providing Ukraine with advanced weaponry, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters and ammunition."
A woman eats food given to her by volunteers at a food delivery station run by a Hare Krishna group in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on May 20, 2022. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo