Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) crossed into Ukraine on Sunday while visiting the and called on the Biden administration to send Kyiv Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS).
Portman briefly entered Ukraine while visiting the Ukraine-Moldova border, making him the latest US lawmaker to set foot on Ukrainian territory and push for more US arms to be shipped to the country.
Portman wrote on Twitter that the administration must “immediately” send the MLRS, which Ukraine has been requesting. “The admin must not deter itself from providing this assistance for fear of provoking Russia,” Portman wrote on Twitter.
“The MLRS can help balance the field in Ukraine’s favor and should be approved and shipped immediately,” he added. Portman repeated his call for the US to ship the MLRS to Ukraine the next day. He has long advocated for the arming of Ukraine as the co-chair of the Senate’s Ukraine Caucus, which was founded in 2015.
The White House said Monday that sending the MLRS was under consideration but that the systems wouldn’t have long-range capabilities. MLRS are capable of firing rockets with ranges up to 190 miles, which would make it easy for Ukraine to hit Russian territory, but they can be equipped with munitions that can only reach 20-45 miles.
But even providing MLRS with short-range rockets would still be a significant escalation in US military aid to Kyiv. Up to this point, the heaviest equipment the US has provided to Ukraine is the M777 Howitzer, which has a range of about 15 miles.