The United States will not send Ukraine rocket systems that can reach Russia, President Joe Biden said on Monday, as the besieged country pushes for a longer-range weapons system to help in its fight.
Ukrainian officials have been asking allies for longer-range systems including the Multiple Launch Rocket System, or MLRS, that can fire a barrage of rockets hundreds of miles away.
"We're not going to send to Ukraine rocket systems that strike into Russia," Biden told reporters after arriving back at the White House after a weekend in Delaware.
Biden did not rule out providing any specific weapons system but instead appeared to be placing conditions on how they could be used. Biden and his team are working on a new package of military equipment and it is expected to be announced in the coming days.
The MLRS was under consideration, but nothing with long-range strike capabilities outside of battlefield use, a senior administration official said. Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev reacted to Washington's decision, calling it 'rational.'
Earlier, Russian forces regrouped to resume their offensive in the direction of the Sloviansk region of eastern Ukraine, while also continuing efforts to encircle the city of Sievierodonetsk, Ukraine's defense ministry spokesman said on Monday.
Ukrainian forces, however, had some success in advancing towards the coastal areas where Russian forces took defensive positions, he added.
"In Sloviansk, the enemy is regrouping to resume attacks in the direction of Izyum-Barvinkove and Izyum-Sloviansk," Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a briefing.
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- Israeli government, donors launch $1 million fund for Ukrainian-Jewish refugee summer camp
- EU makes eleventh-hour push to agree on Russia oil sanctions
Fighting continues in last eastern Ukrainian stronghold
The most intense fighting occurred near Sievierodonetsk, the last major stronghold of Ukrainian forces in the Luhansk region of the Donbas.
Two civilians were killed and five wounded by shelling as Russian troops entered the outskirts of the Ukrainian city, Luhansk region governor Serhiy Gaidai said on Monday.
Motuzyanyk said Ukrainian troops were doing all they could to prevent Russian forces from completely encircling the city. Its fall could help Moscow consolidate its grip on the Donbas, large parts of which are already controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.
Russia has concentrated its firepower on the last major population center still held by Ukrainian forces in the eastern Luhansk province, in a push to achieve one of President Vladimir Putin's stated objectives after three months of war.
Incessant shelling has left Ukrainian forces defending ruins in Sievierodonetsk, but their refusal to withdraw has slowed the massive Russian offensive across the Donbas region.
Gaidai said Russian troops had advanced into the city's southeastern and northeastern fringes, but he said Ukrainian forces had driven the Russians out of the village of Toshkivka to the south, potentially frustrating Moscow's push to encircle the area.
"Capturing Sievierodonetsk is a fundamental task for the occupiers...We do all we can to hold this advance"Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, May 30
Mykolaiv shipyard attack
Russia's defense ministry said on Monday that its forces had struck a shipbuilding facility in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.
Russian artillery struck a hangar in Mykolaiv's Okean Shipyard, destroying vehicles and other equipment, the ministry said.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the report.
Bomb hits Russian-occupied Ukraine city of Melitopol
A car bomb exploded in the Russia-controlled Ukrainian city of Melitopol on Monday, injuring several people in what Russia's Investigative Committee and a Ukrainian official said may have been the work of Ukrainians opposed to Russia.
"On 30 May 2022, an explosion reportedly took place in the center of Melitopol near a residential building at the time of distribution of humanitarian aid, which was organized by Ukrainian saboteurs," the Russian investigative committee said on its website.
According to preliminary information, three people were injured as a result, the committee added.
Melitopol's exiled mayor Ivan Fedorov also reported the explosion in a separate statement, adding that it occurred near a building that belongs to the head of the Russia-appointed administration.
He said it was possible that the explosion was the work of local resistance as the city's inhabitants continued to protest against the occupation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier on Monday condemned the explosion, saying attacks against civilian infrastructure in Russia-occupied areas of Ukraine were "outrageous".