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Is Biden Provoking Russia with Latest Advanced Rocket System Donations?

M270 MLRS Rocket Artillery
M270 MLRS. Image: ROK Military handout.

President Joe Biden announced in a New York Times guest post on Tuesday that his administration would provide Ukraine with “more advanced rocket systems and munitions that will enable them to more precisely strike key targets on the battlefield in Ukraine.”

The announcement comes just a day after the president confirmed that long-range missiles would not be sent to Ukraine, and as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks approval from the White House to send U.S.-manufactured M270 medium-range missile systems to Ukraine.

While the promised missile systems have a substantially shorter range than the long-range missile systems requested by Kyiv, some warn that the U.S. and NATO’s continued supply of weapons to Ukraine risks a military response from Russia.

Former Defense Official Warns U.S. “Walking a Very, Very Fine Line”

Rebekah Koffler, a former officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned this week that the United States is walking a fine line and risking escalation by providing Ukraine with increasingly powerful weapons.

Speaking to Fox News Digital, Koffler said that the Biden administration is “walking a very, very fine line with the Russians,” adding that it is the job of the U.S. government to manage that risk.

“Both countries, neither Russia not the United States, want to go to war with each other because both recognize that the minute they step on that path, it goes very quickly and war gaming has demonstrated that it escalates uncontrollably,” Koffler said.

The Kremlin has issued repeated threats to the United States and NATO countries over the last three months, warning that aid convoys headed to Ukraine would be considered legitimate targets by Russian troops and even threatening to deploy nuclear weapons. Many of those threats, however, have yet to be realized.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified in late March that Russia’s promise to deploy nuclear weapons in the event of an “existential threat” was not a reference to NATO’s arming of Ukraine.

Aid convoys headed to Ukraine have also yet to be targeted while on NATO soil, with Russia specifically waiting until arms and other supplies arrive in Ukrainian territory before ordering strikes. Railway stations and other supply-line points in Ukraine have been hit repeatedly by Russian missiles, particularly in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

This week, Russia accused the United States of prolonging the war in Ukraine, with Peskov claiming that the U.S. was “intentionally adding fuel to the fire” with the delivery of new weapons.

“Such supplies do not contribute to the Ukrainian leadership’s willingness to resume peace negotiations,” he said.

While the United States is walking a fine line, the Biden administration knows Russia’s struggle to take control of Kyiv and its shortage of modern ammunition and weapons puts the country at a disadvantage. Furthermore, by refusing to supply Ukraine with long-range missiles that would allow the country to initiate attacks on Russian territory, the Biden administration has shown real restraint – no doubt to ensure that Russia doesn’t take the bold step of striking NATO territory.

So far, Russia has proven that supplying weapons to Ukraine is not an escalatory step that would result in a military response from the Kremlin.

That being said, however, the United States has so far stopped short of supplying weapons that would easily allow Ukraine to initiate an attack on Russian soil.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive's Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Stefan Stackhouse

    June 3, 2022 at 10:52 am

    Russia has already been doing a lot of provoking. They might not like it that we are finally responding, but this is the real world, and provocations do result in responses.

    Yes, our “tit” might result in a Russian “tat” in response. That is too bad, but we have actually been quite restrained up to now.

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