Biden Permits Ukraine to Conduct Limited Strikes Within Russia Using US Weapons

Alexander Scott
Alexander Scott - Writer
6 Min Read
"Joe Biden" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

President Joe Biden has authorized Ukraine to carry out strikes inside Russian territory using American munitions, although he has limited their use to targets near the border close to Kharkiv. This decision follows significant advances by Russian forces around the northeastern Ukrainian city near the Russian border, according to two US officials who spoke to CNN.

“The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use US-supplied weapons for counterfire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces attacking them or preparing to attack them,” one of the officials said.

This relaxation of restrictions marks a departure from longstanding policy and comes amid increasing international pressure from close US allies. However, it is limited to the area around Kharkiv, and Ukraine has not requested permission beyond that, the official added, noting that they do not foresee the US expanding the allowed area.

Politico first reported the news.

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Kyiv made the request for Washington to change its policy in the past few weeks as Russian forces have advanced, the official said. Russian forces, ammunition depots, and logistical hubs can now be targeted with US-provided artillery and rockets across the border from Kharkiv in western Russia.

The Biden administration continues to prohibit Ukraine from using the most formidable munition it has been given to fire into Russia: the long-range missiles known as ATACMS, which can hit targets 200 miles, or 300 kilometers, away.

Ukraine has been allowed to use US anti-aircraft weapons to counter the imminent threat of Russian aircraft flying in both Ukrainian and Russian airspace, successfully downing them, the first official emphasized. However, the prohibition has prevented Ukraine from targeting Russian aircraft on the ground inside Russia.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly indicated a willingness to change the administration’s stance this week, noting that the US could “adapt and adjust” its position.

Joe Biden Biden Permits Ukraine to Conduct Limited Strikes Within Russia Using US Weapons
Joe Biden” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

A hallmark of US support for Ukraine “has been to adapt as conditions have changed, battlefields change, as what Russia does has changed in terms of how it is pursuing its aggression escalation, we’ve adapted and adjusted too,” Blinken said on Wednesday during a visit to Moldova. “I am confident we will continue to do that.”

The previous day, key European leaders signaled they had shifted their positions.

Speaking at a news conference alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron outlined that French weapons sent to Ukraine, including long-range missiles, were permitted to target bases inside Russia.

“Ukrainian soil is being attacked from bases in Russia,” Macron said during a visit to Schloss Meseberg in Brandenburg, Germany. “So how do we explain to the Ukrainians that we’re going to have to protect these towns and basically everything we’re seeing around Kharkiv at the moment, if we tell them you are not allowed to hit the point from which the missiles are fired?”

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“We think that we should allow them to neutralize the military sites from which the missiles are fired and, basically, the military sites from which Ukraine is attacked,” Macron continued.

Germany’s Scholz echoed Macron’s comments and said that Ukraine was allowed to defend itself as long as it respected the conditions given by the countries that supplied the weapons, including the United States, and international law.

The initial limits preventing Ukraine from firing into Russian territory with US weaponry were rooted in the Biden administration’s concerns about escalating the war. While those concerns remain, the US moved to change its position after the Ukrainian government explicitly cited the need to defend Kharkiv, European allies began shifting their stances, and NATO leadership quietly urged the US to allow such strikes.

Blinken visited Ukraine earlier this month and heard firsthand the Ukrainian request to target sites inside Russia’s border. On that trip, Blinken reiterated that the US would ensure Ukraine could “deter and defend against future attacks.”

“The US is feeling the weight of the argument,” said one European diplomat earlier this week, anticipating that a change in US policy might be coming.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has quietly urged the US and other nations to provide Ukraine with the capabilities needed to target sites inside Russia, sources said.

Stoltenberg’s repeated efforts behind closed doors did not immediately result in a US policy change. But he made a point this week to publicly advocate for the benefit – and perhaps necessity – of allowing Ukraine to defend itself without limits.

“To deny Ukraine the possibility of using these weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory makes it very hard for them to defend themselves,” Stoltenberg said last week.

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By Alexander Scott Writer
I'm Alexander Scott, a tech guru and coding wizard. With each keystroke, I sculpt the future, shaping digital landscapes and crafting innovative solutions. Through the intricate dance of algorithms and logic, I bring ideas to life, bridging the gap between imagination and reality. From sleek interfaces to powerful backend systems, I thrive on the challenge of pushing boundaries and pioneering new technologies. With determination and passion, I navigate the ever-evolving realm of code, driving progress and innovation forward. Join me on this journey as we unravel the mysteries of technology and harness its potential to change the world. 💻🌟
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