Ukrainian leaders: the country needs way more weapons than the White House has already approved.

Ukrainian leaders who visited Washington this week say the country needs way more weapons than the White House has already approved. If approved by the White House, the move would double the number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems sent to the country, as Ukrainian and Russian forces continue their long-range artillery battle in Ukraine’s east.

The problem is the front line is about 800 miles now,” David Arakhamia, the majority leader of the Ukrainian Parliament and chief negotiator between Russia and Ukraine, told POLITICO. Kyiv needs to be able to destroy Russian air defense systems from hundreds of miles away so that Ukrainian forces can use drones and other weapons without worrying they will be shot down. The White House fears that Ukraine would use long-range rockets to strike targets inside Russia, but Arakhamia said Kyiv has assured Washington that the weapons will be used only inside Ukraine. “We are ready to sign any guarantees in written format,” he said, even offering to vote on it in parliament. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov recently wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin making that guarantee, Ustinova said.

The Pentagon is leaning toward sending four more rocket launchers to Ukraine in the next tranche of military aid, according to two Defense Department officials. If approved by the White House, the move would double the number of High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems sent to the country, as Ukrainian and Russian forces continue their long-range artillery battle in Ukraine’s east.

The U.S. is already sending four of the HIMARS, a mobile rocket launcher, along with precision munitions that can strike targets 48 miles away. The U.K., meanwhile, is sending three units of a similar weapon, the American-made M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, with a range of 50 miles. Germany also announced this week that it will transfer three M270s to Kyiv. The Defense Department is still weighing all options and the decision to send four more HIMARS is not yet final, one of the DoD officials said, noting that U.S. contributions to Ukraine’s effort are made in consultation with allies and partners. The decision will be “based on Ukrainian immediate needs,” the official said. The two DoD officials asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. A spokesperson for the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The administration expects to approve a number of additional HIMARS in the upcoming package, a third U.S. official said, though this person stressed that the next tranche of aid is still being developed at the Pentagon level and the final number could change at the last minute. “We expect to be transferring more HIMARS and more [guided] rounds soon,” the person said. Even though the number of HIMARS would be doubled, top Ukrainian officials say they need many more such systems, along with longer-range munitions, to destroy Moscow’s artillery across a battlefield that stretches for hundreds of miles.

Ukrainian troops are close to completing a crash course on operating M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS. HIMARS were donated by the US to Ukrainian forces to fight against the Russian onslaught. Reports say more systems would follow once Ukrainian forces demonstrate their effective use in combat.

The Lockheed Martin-made rocket systems are a step up from the M777 howitzers — towed artillery with a range of 20 miles — the U.S. has been sending to Ukraine. The first group of 60 Ukrainians have wrapped up training on the HIMARS, and the four systems already approved to be donated will be delivered to the front lines by the end of the month, Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Brussels this week.

Top U.S. officials say the new rocket launchers, along with precision munitions, will prove effective in countering Russia’s advancing forces in the Donbas. “If they use the weapon properly and it’s employed properly, they ought to be able to take out a significant amount of targets,” Milley said. “That will make a difference.”

Three multiple rocket launchers that Germany pledged to Kyiv can be delivered in July or August after Ukrainian troops have been trained on the weapons, German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Thursday. “The training on these multiple rocket launchers can begin at the end of June, meaning they can be delivered at the end of July or the start of August,” she told reporters as she arrived for a second day of talks with her NATO counterparts in Brussels.

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