July 25, 2024

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Pressuring Biden to allow Ukraine to strike Russia with American weapons

Pressuring Biden to allow Ukraine to strike Russia with American weapons

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, High Mobility Artillery Missile Systems (HIMARS) are among the weapons the United States has supplied to Ukraine

  • author, Laura Josey
  • Role, BBC News

Pressure is increasing on US President Joe Biden to allow Ukraine to use weapons supplied by the West to strike Russian territory.

A number of US allies indicated this week that they were open to this possibility, after months of concern about escalation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of “serious consequences,” especially for what he called “small countries” in Europe.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington’s position on the issue would “adapt and adjust” based on changing battlefield conditions. He is currently in the Czech capital, Prague, to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said late on Wednesday that despite the evolving US support for Kiev, “at this time, there is no change in our policy.”

Ukraine is struggling to confront a Russian attack in the east of the country, while the city of Kharkiv has suffered for weeks from deadly attacks, often launched by Russia from military sites near the Ukrainian border.

Comment on the photo, The White House said there had been no change in its policy

Macron has for some time called for more direct intervention in the Ukraine war — but other Western leaders appear to be watering down that idea.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz remained cautious in public, but a spokesman for him in Berlin said that “defensive action is not limited to the territory of the state, but also includes the territory of the aggressor.”

Last week, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told The Economist that the West should allow Ukraine to defend itself by striking military bases in Russia. “Ukraine has the right to defend itself. This includes striking targets on Russian territory.”

British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron said earlier this month that it was up to Ukraine to decide how to use British weapons, while Poland’s deputy defense minister said this week that the Ukrainians could use Polish weapons “as they see fit.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier that it was “unfair” for Western countries to impose restrictions on the use of their weapons, while acknowledging that Ukraine could not risk supporting its partners.

Russia has reacted angrily to the prospect of Western weapons being used against targets on Russian soil.

“In Europe, especially in small countries, they must be aware of what they are playing with,” Vladimir Putin said, noting that many European countries have “small territories” and “population density.”

Some NATO countries remain nervous about this possibility. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday that she did not believe it was necessary to strike Russian military bases and urged the West to provide more air defenses to Ukraine instead.

However, Ukraine is believed to have already used some Western-supplied weapons to launch attacks on Russian territory, although it did so without fanfare.

Latvian Foreign Minister Paipa Brazi told Ukrainian media that some countries had already provided weapons “unconditionally” to Ukraine, but “not everything was said out loud.”

Other countries were more willing to give Ukraine permission to use its weapons inside Russia.

The United States has already supplied Ukraine with thousands of defensive weapons, tanks and air defense systems.

Since April, it has also sent Ukraine the longer-range version of ATACMS missiles, which can reach up to 190 miles (300 kilometers).

Until now, Ukraine has been using drones to attack targets farther into Russian territory than ever before.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Ukrainian drones managed to hit an early warning radar near the city of Orsk, about 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from the Ukrainian border.