White House Walks Back Biden Ruling Out Rockets for Ukraine

The White House appears to be walking back President Joe Biden's remarks that the U.S. will not send long-range rocket systems into Ukraine.

"We're not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that can strike into Russia," Biden said to reporters on the South Lawn Monday morning.

Following his remarks, a senior administration official said there has been no decision yet on sending multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) to Ukraine.

"MLRS is under consideration, but nothing is on the table with long-range strike capabilities," the administration official said Monday, according to The Washington Post.

The Biden administration was expected to announce a decision on sending the systems into Ukraine sometime this week, multiple outlets have reported. Before the Memorial Day weekend, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said officials are still determining what the next drawdown package will include.

"Certainly, we're mindful and aware of the Ukrainian asks, privately and publicly, for what is known as a multiple-launch rocket system," Kirby said Friday.

"I won't get ahead of decisions... but I can assure you that we are in constant communication with them [Ukraine]. We're still committed to helping them succeed on the battlefield, and to succeed specifically in the fight they're in."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked for the long-range systems.

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has been pushing to provide the systems to Ukraine. On Monday, he called Biden's remarks against the delivery a "betrayal of Ukraine️ and democracy itself."

"Apparently, once again the Biden Administration is intimidated by Russian rhetoric," Graham tweeted. "This is another terrible day in the continuing travesty of Biden's foreign policy."

Meanwhile, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev called Biden's apparent ruling on not sending the systems "rational."

Russia shifted its offensive in recent weeks as it continues to focus on the Donbas region and southern Ukraine. The concentration of forces in that area has presented various changes for Ukraine. Russia is more familiar with Donbas as fighting has been ongoing in that region for the past eight years, Kirby has said.

Zelensky has asked for the long-range systems, some missiles have a range of nearly 185 miles. As Newsweek has reported, the MLRS is more mobile than howitzers, which the U.S. has provided to Ukraine in the most recent drawdown packages. The U.S. has also been training Ukrainians on the howitzers outside of Ukraine.

Biden on South Lawn
President Joe Biden speaks to reporters as he returns to the White House from Delaware on the South Lawn in Washington, Monday, May 30, 2022. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo