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U.S. and Ukraine discuss giving it more powerful rocket launch systems

U.S. and Ukraine discuss giving it more powerful rocket launch systems

On April 12, 2022, Ukrainian artillery shelled Russian positions on the front line near Lisenshansk in the Luhansk region.

U.S. military officials acknowledged that they had repeatedly communicated with Ukrainian officials about Kyiv’s request for newer, more advanced weapons to help Ukraine stop Russia’s progress in the Donbas, but declined to say publicly whether those weapons systems would be very useful for Fast delivery.

Ukraine has been pleading for weeks for the U.S. to supply U.S.-made Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, or MLRS, that are more powerful and flexible than howitzers and other artillery systems Washington and the West have offered so far.

Those requests are getting louder as Russian troops advance in eastern Ukraine. Senior U.S. defense officials say Russia has made “incremental progress” in the battle, which is dominated by artillery and another so-called long-range firepower.

“We are aware of Ukraine’s private and public requests for so-called multiple rocket launch systems,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters. “But I’m not going to make an announcement until a decision has been made.”

“We are in constant communication with them about their needs,” he added. “We’re working every day to get weapons and systems into Ukraine, and everyday weapons and system comes into Ukraine to help them fight.”

However, there are some signs that U.S. officials may be preparing to ship MLRS to Ukraine to help repel Russia’s latest offensive.

Multiple U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told CNN that the Biden administration is leaning toward sending some MLRS to Ukraine, which could be announced next week.

Late Friday, two U.S. officials confirmed in interviews with U.S. political news outlet Politico that the U.S. is leaning toward sending MLRS to Ukraine, but said a final decision had not been made.

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The United States has two multiple launch rocket systems – the M270 and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). Both launch 227mm rockets. The M270 can fire up to 12 rockets, while the more flexible M142 can fire up to six rockets.

Depending on the rocket type, the M270 can hit targets up to 70 kilometers away, which is twice the range of existing U.S. howitzers in Ukraine. The HIMARS system can hit targets up to 300 kilometers away.

Lieutenant-General Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top military official, called on Telegram on Thursday that Ukraine needs “weapons that allow us to strike our enemies from a distance.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded that supplying Ukraine with weapons that could reach Russian territory was a “serious step towards an unacceptable escalation.”

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