- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2022

President Biden plans to announce a new $700 million aid package, including advanced rocket systems and air surveillance radars, administration officials said Tuesday.

The new package excludes longer-range systems such as M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, despite pressure from Ukrainian officials.

The White House said Tuesday that Kyiv also provided assurances that the new weapons will not be used to target Russians beyond Ukraine‘s borders.

“We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders,” an administration official said Tuesday.

Still, officials said the administration remains “committed to providing assistance to Ukraine as they defend their country.”

The package, which Mr. Biden plans to announce Wednesday, includes the first U.S. shipment of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System or HIMARS which have a range of approximately 45 miles, officials said.

SEE ALSO: Russia batters key city in eastern Ukraine, controls at least half

The decision to send the more advanced system stikes a balance between the howitzers the U.S. previously provided and the longer-range rockets, which have a range of close to 200 miles and that American officials say could further escalate tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

When pressed Monday, Mr. Biden assured reporters that he had no intention of sending weapons that could strike into Russia itself, though he did not rule out sending any specific systems.

Officials said Tuesday they hoped Russia would “end the war as quickly as possible.”

“It is Russia attacking inside Ukraine, not the other way around,” a White House official said.

The latest package will also include additional Javelin anti-tank rounds, helicopters, tactical vehicles and spare parts.

Once officially announced, it will be the 11th round of U.S aid since the war began and the first package to dip into the $40 billion package approved by Congress in late May.

The U.S. has provided a total of $4.5 billion in lethal aid to Ukraine since the end of February.

Tuesday’s preview of the package accompanied a New York Times op-ed in which Mr. Biden outlined the continued U.S. resolve to help 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,” Mr. Biden wrote.

He said the U.S. does not aim to prolong the war with Russia and supports a diplomatic solution to the conflict, but added that any solution must be on Ukraine‘s terms.

“Standing by Ukraine in its hour of need is not just the right thing to do,” Mr. Biden 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.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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