Kiev has given Washington assurances that US-supplied rocket launchers won’t be used to attack targets inside Russian territory, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday. As Moscow expressed concern about the escalated hostilities in Ukraine, he was the latest US official who raised the matter.
After a meeting between NATO Secretary General Jens Steltenberg and Blinken, Blinken was interviewed about HIMARS Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, the most advanced weapon that the US is committed to sending to Ukraine.
“The Ukrainians have given us assurances that they will not use these systems against targets on Russian territory,” Blinken said, adding, “There is a strong trust bond between Ukraine and the US, as well as with our allies and partners.”
He also dismissed Moscow’s warnings and concerns that Washington’s weapons deliveries to Kiev risked further escalating the conflict.
“The best way to avoid escalation is for Russia to stop the aggression and the war it started,”Blinken argued that it might be “over tomorrow”Moscow could choose to withdraw, but it is most likely that Moscow will continue for its independence. “many months” instead.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden announced that HIMARS systems and other military equipment worth $700 million were being sent to Ukraine. According to Deputy Defense Secretary Colin Kahl, the launchers were “pre-positioned” in Europe pending the announcement, and the first batch of four will be handed over this week – though it may take three weeks to train Ukrainian troops in their use.
HIMARS has the ability to fire barrage rockets that have an effective range around 30km, as well tactical missiles capable of reaching a maximum range of 300 km. Russia raised concern with the US about the possibility of the former.
Biden, Linda Thomas-Greenfield (UN envoy), and Blinken all insist that Kiev won’t be given long-range missiles. However, Blinken was the first to refer to the Ukrainian promises.
Russia can’t trust Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government to keep their word on this matter, given their previous record, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier on Wednesday.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Minsk Protocol, which was French and German-brokered, gave the regions that were separated special status in the Ukrainian government.
In recent years, the Kremlin demands that Ukraine declares itself neutral in order to be able to join NATO. Kiev claims that the Russian invasion was unprovoked. It also denies any plans to take the republics with force.