Lawmakers Want Better Weapons for Ukraine. Joe Biden Isn’t So Sure.

As the war in Ukraine continues with there is no end in the sceneConcerns are growing in Washington — among Democrats and Republicans alike — that the Biden administration is holding back from supplying Ukraine with certain types of weapons that could give the invaded nation a clear advantage. before Russia.

The dispute revolves around a mobile missile launcher known in the military as “HIMARS” (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System). It is basically a light armored military truck capable of firing multiple missiles. And the debate on Capitol Hill is whether the United States should supply Ukraine with longer-range missiles — missiles capable of reaching deep into Russia.

Most lawmakers are grateful to the United States for providing Ukraine with these HIMARS. Just this week, the Biden administration announced a new aid package that includes more ammunition for HIMARS. But many lawmakers also said they were concerned the Biden administration was holding back on longer-range weapons, which they say could help Ukraine at a pivotal time in the war.

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chair of the Ukrainian Senate Caucus, told The Daily Beast that he thinks the Biden administration has been hesitant to provide longer-range missiles because some officials are concerned fear it will provoke Russia.

“They think it’s escalating, but I deny it,” Portman told The Daily Beast, adding that he was in favor of the missile supply.

Another Republican — Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), a member of the Armed Services Committee – said the Biden administration was too concerned about eliminating Russia when it needed to focus on how to defeat it.

“They are worried about escalation because… this administration is risk averse,” Ernst told The Daily Beast, adding, “We need to make sure we are beating Russia.”

Concerns that the Biden administration might be reluctant to add more skins to the game come as Ukrainian forces are working to strengthen counterattack at Kherson, a city that Russian forces captured early in the war. Withdrawing it would be a major blow to Russia – both militarily and psychologically.

Some of the White House fraud allegations sound familiar. The Biden administration was initially hesitant to send HIMARS earlier this year because of concerns that the Ukrainians could fire on Russian territory and push the conflict into a larger-scale war. However, authorities were concerned about whether the Ukrainians would fire into Russian territory as Ukrainian officials promised not to do so, US officials said.

The The Biden administration then sent some HIMARS in June, and has provided a few more HIMARS and ammunition deliveries since then, for a total of 16 HIMARS commitments. There are no reports that the Ukrainians have broken their promises, and senior US defense officials have judged that HIMARS has been very useful.

“There’s been a significant impact on what’s going on on the front lines,” a senior US defense official told reporters in July.

However, despite repeated requests by Ukrainian officials for longer-range weapons for HIMARS, the United States has yet to fulfill it. The Pentagon has provided intermediate-range missile systems with Guided Multiple Launch Missile Systems (GMLRS) (which can travel about 45 miles), while the administration has suspended the sending of long-range bombs, munitions, and munitions. further for Ukraine that HIMARS can also shoot, called Army Tactics. Missile System (ATACMS) (can reach about 180 miles).

While some say the administration is still concerned about provoking Russia, others argue that the United States does not have as much information about Ukraine’s military activities as it did before announcing only longer-range missiles.

Concerns have arisen in recent days about whether the United States truly understands Ukraine’s war plans, which is essential for the Biden administration to know how to use any weapon provided. grant. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) said she would like to see Ukraine’s strategic plan before settling on longer-range weapons for HIMARS.

“What we have to do, what Ukraine has to do and what we are working with them is develop a strategic plan going forward and then try to make sure that we get Fit Rosen told The Daily Beast, adding that discussions about these issues are taking place in classified facilities.

For its part, the U.S. intelligence community lacks insight into Ukraine’s strategy, which could create a rift in the way the United States provides security aid to Ukraine, such as The New York Times report. Ukrainian officials did not share detailed operational plans during meetings with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin or General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to the statement. Times.

“We have to see what their strategic plan is,” said Rosen, who also sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “And it’s important that we give them the right weapons or assistance — for what the game plan is.”

Some of Ukraine’s demands do not appear to be in line with their current goals.

A source familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that the majority of Ukrainian targets, the Biden administration now believes, are within about 30 miles, which would make longer-range HIMARS munitions unnecessary. set.

Defense Department spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Garron J. Garn told The Daily Beast the current list of targets that Ukrainian officials have provided to the Pentagon indicates that they do not need long-range missiles.

“We are providing the Ukrainians with a range of capabilities commensurate with the war they are fighting, based on the requirements the Ukrainians have identified for us,” the spokesman said. It added that the short range could hit “most” Ukrainian targets.

Due to concerns that Russia might view the longer-range missiles as a sign that Ukraine plans to fire on Russian territory, the Biden administration does not consider the risk worthwhile, the source suggested.

However, Ukrainian officials continued to demand these weapons.

According to Gordon “Skip” Davis, former deputy secretary-general in charge of NATO’s Defense Investment Division, ensuring the US government is aware of Ukraine’s military and political plans is crucial.

“That is a question we have the right to ask, provided the level of security assistance [and] Davis told The Daily Beast.

For now, the Biden administration has not necessarily ruled out sending longer-range missiles, according to people familiar with the matter. It just doesn’t do so at the moment.

The Biden administration must also make major calculations about Russia’s potential response to any U.S. aid to Ukraine. Chris Dougherty, a former senior adviser to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for strategy and force development at the Pentagon, told The Daily Beast, there are concerns that Russia may consider ranged weapons. further away for HIMARS is a much greater threat.

Dougherty told The Daily Beast: “The Russians have deep concerns about the presence of American or Western long-range strike vehicles in or around their territory. “They are really scared about the possibility of the US or NATO, for the most part, launching beheading attacks. While we can reasonably know these weapons systems can’t be used for that… that’s just a potentially frequent concern.”

While U.S. strategy should not be motivated by Moscow’s concerns, Dougherty said, it should still be taken into account that Russia could interpret events and then escalate.

According to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the questions about whether to send longer-range missiles are also about supply and demand – and whether the Pentagon is willing to provide valuable reserves of the missile. America for Ukraine.

We have “fewer tools,” Rubio said of longer-range tools. Rubio, a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, told The Daily Beast: “So they had to get out of our own stock. “The question is, how do you replenish them.”

Dougherty told The Daily Beast that the US has a limited supply of those missiles, with likely around 1,000-3,000 ATACMS remaining.

That raises questions about how far US support can go in the long term, Davis said.

“ATACMS can take a long time to produce,” says Davis. “There will be considerations here, as soon as we look at offering them, about replenishing stock… because we don’t have a bunch of systems to start with.”

A source familiar with stocks confirmed to The Daily Beast, that there are indeed finite resources when it comes to ATACMS.

Meanwhile, the demands of Ukrainian officials have not been heard. Advisor to the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyakwarned Thursday that obtaining longer-range weapons for HIMARS would be key to mediating an end to the war with Russia.

In order to talk to Russia, he said, Ukraine needs a “proper negotiating position” and part of the “right negotiating position” is long-range artillery.

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