Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Biden allows Ukraine to hit some targets in Russia with US weapons

US President Joe Biden has authorized Ukraine to use American-supplied weapons to strike targets in Russia, specifically near the Kharkiv region. US officials confirmed this directive aims to allow Ukraine to use US weapons for “counter-fire purposes” against Russian forces attacking or preparing to attack.

Russian forces have recently advanced in the Kharkiv region following a surprise offensive. On Friday, Ukrainian officials reported three deaths and 16 injuries from Russian shelling of a residential building in a Kharkiv suburb.

The US official clarified that the prohibition on using Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) or conducting long-range strikes inside Russia remains unchanged. When asked whether Ukraine could attack Russian aircraft, an official responded, “We’ve never told them they can’t shoot down a Russian airplane over Russian soil that’s coming to attack them.”

The White House and State Department have not commented on the new policy. The UK had earlier indicated openness to easing restrictions on Ukraine’s use of Western-supplied weapons. This stance has been echoed by several European leaders, despite concerns about escalating the conflict.

Washington, which supplies most of Ukraine’s weaponry, had previously resisted relaxing these restrictions due to fears of escalation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken suggested a shift during his visit to Moldova, stating, “At every step along the way, we’ve adapted and adjusted as necessary. And so that’s exactly what we’ll do going forward.”

Russian forces seem to have exploited a strategic opportunity to advance in Kharkiv while Ukraine awaits additional Western weapons. The situation remains dynamic as Ukraine continues its defensive efforts against the ongoing Russian aggression.

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