Joe Biden's huge move against Russia: 'This is how nuclear war begins'

The US overnight has unveiled a new US$700 million package ($975 million) of sophisticated weapons for Ukraine in an urgent effort to prevent Russia from seizing the final swaths of land in the Donbas region.

But the most advanced rocket systems will take at least three weeks to reach the battlefront, raising questions of whether they will arrive in time to stop Russia’s slow but steady gains as the war inches closer to global catastrophe.

The Biden administration’s decision to send four medium-range rocket systems came after weeks of debate over whether the precision-guided weapons would provoke a strong military reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin. It suggests the US believes it has zeroed in on what weapons deliveries are worth the risk.

US President Joe Biden will send advanced rockets to help Ukraine in a key battle.
US President Joe Biden will send advanced rockets to help Ukraine in a key battle. Source: Reuters

“We don’t have an interest in the conflict in Ukraine widening to a broader conflict or evolving into World War Three. So we’ve been mindful of that,” said Colin Kahl, the defense undersecretary for policy.

“But at the same time, Russia doesn’t get a veto over what we send to the Ukrainians.”

US officials said that Ukrainian leaders have promised they will use the rockets only to defend their nation.

“The Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday (local time).

“There is a strong trust bond between Ukraine and the United States.”

Nuclear war beings 'one step at a time'

But not everyone has such faith in the latest decision by the US.

"This is a textbook example of how a nuclear war begins. One step at a time," tweeted popular author Jim Rickards on Wednesday.

The Kremlin is also making threatening noises about the move.

A US-made HIMARS (High Mobility Advanced Rocket System) on static display during live fire exercises in 2016.
A US-made HIMARS (High Mobility Advanced Rocket System) on static display during live fire exercises in 2016. Source: Getty

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Wednesday the US is “deliberately and diligently pouring fuel on the fire.” He added that Russia doesn’t trust Kyiv’s assurances that the multiple rocket launch systems supplied by the US will not be used to attack.

“In order to trust (someone), you need to have experience with situations when such promises were kept. Regretfully, there is no such experience whatsoever,” Peskov said.

'It's a grinding fight'

The need to train Ukrainian troops on the HIMARS system for about three weeks before they can go to battle raises concerns that Russia will have a window of time to capture key terrain in the east.

“It is a grinding fight,” said Kahl. “We believe that these additional capabilities will arrive in a timeframe that’s relevant and allow the Ukrainians to very precisely target the types of things they need for the current fight.”

The Pentagon would not say how many rockets it will provide to Ukraine, only that it is sending four of the truck-mounted HIMARS systems. The trucks each carry a container with six precision-guided rockets, which can travel about 70 kilometres.

The expectation is that Ukraine can use the rockets in the Donbas, where they could both intercept Russian artillery and take out Russian positions in towns where fighting is intense, such as Sievierodonetsk.

President Joe Biden in an essay in a New York Times, said that, “We are not encouraging or enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We do not want to prolong the war just to inflict pain on Russia.”

Associated Press

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