President Zelensky reportedly intends to plead for more advanced weapons but is unlikely to receive them, sources say
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s upcoming trip to Washington to meet with his US counterpart Joe Biden will likely include a plea for some of the most advanced weapon systems the US has in stock, such as the long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), Politico has reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
The visit, which is expected to take place on Wednesday, according to media sources, will see Zelensky hold extended talks with Biden in the Oval Office, after which the two leaders will convene a White House news conference. Zelensky is subsequently expected to address members of Congress.
One of the main topics of the day is expected to be the issue of the provision of advanced weapons to Ukraine, which Kiev believes could change the tide in its military conflict with Moscow.
“He needs longer-range weapons to enable him to preempt an expected Russian offensive,” Bill Taylor, the former US ambassador to Ukraine, told Politico. “He needs immediate financial support to keep his government running, and he knows that Congress will make decisions on these items this week.”
It’s believed that the Ukrainian delegation plans to ask for the long-range ATACMS, which have a striking distance of some 300km, as well as the Grey Eagle and Reaper drones, according to sources familiar with the discussions who spoke to Politico.
They note, however, that US officials aren’t ready to change their stance on the issue after previously flat-out rejecting sending ATACMS, citing the high cost and possibility of provoking Moscow into using more lethal weapons inside Ukraine.
Nevertheless, the Biden administration is expected to present a new $2 billion military aid package to Ukraine, which, for the first time, will include the Patriot air defense systems and Joint Direct Attack Munition kits, the latter of which are used to create precision-guided bombs. The package will also reportedly include $850 million worth of artillery and other munitions from US stockpiles.
Russia, meanwhile, has repeatedly insisted that “pumping” Ukraine with weapons will ultimately have no effect on the outcome of the conflict and will only serve to prolong the hostilities and lead to more bloodshed.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has also stated that any Western weapon systems, such as the Patriot, will certainly be targeted by Russian forces if they are deployed in Ukraine. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had previously warned that such weapons and their crews would be legitimate targets.
December 21, 2022 at 05:16PM