Biden Permits Limited Use of US Arms for Ukrainian Strikes Inside Russia, Say Officials
Biden Permits Limited Use of US Arms for Ukrainian Strikes Inside Russia, Say Officials

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has quietly authorized Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons to target Russian military positions near the Ukrainian border, particularly those supporting the offensive against Kharkiv. This decision, reported by four US officials on May 30, marks a significant shift in Biden's policy, which had previously restricted Ukraine from using American arms for strikes inside Russia.

Policy Shift in Response to Russian Offensive

Biden's authorization is specifically for military targets inside Russia that are aiding the offensive near Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, located just 19 miles from the Russian border. The directive aims to bolster Ukraine's ability to counter Russian forces attacking or preparing to attack in this region.

Controlled Scope and Continued Restrictions

Despite this policy shift, US officials emphasized that the use of US weapons is confined to areas near the Kharkiv border. The Biden administration continues to prohibit Ukraine from using long-range weapons, such as ATACMS missiles, for deep strikes inside Russia. Additionally, this decision does not extend to approving Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian petroleum facilities.

Responses and Reactions

The Russian embassy in Washington and Russia's UN mission in New York have not yet commented on the policy change. Ukrainian forces have noted Russia's buildup of troops in the northern part of the Kharkiv region, though they believe Russia lacks the numbers for a significant offensive.

Strategic Implications

The policy adjustment follows ongoing calls from some NATO allies and US lawmakers for Biden to allow Ukraine more latitude in striking Russian military sites. Critics have argued that these strikes are necessary to disrupt Russia's aggressive actions near Kharkiv, which have included precision bombings causing civilian casualties.

Expert Opinions

Alexander Vindman, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former director for European affairs at the White House National Security Council, noted that the Biden administration has evolved in its approach, becoming less concerned about the risk of escalation.

Putin's Warnings and Broader Context

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently warned NATO against enabling Ukrainian strikes into Russia, reiterating the potential risk of nuclear conflict. However, experts largely dismissed these threats as bluster, pointing out that Putin has not followed through on similar threats in the past and is already heavily invested in the conflict, which is Europe's largest land war since World War II.

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