Biden officials debate letting Ukraine shoot U.S. weapons into Russia

Biden officials debate letting Ukraine shoot U.S. weapons into Russia
# 23 May 2024 12:15 (UTC +04:00)

"Since the first American shipments of sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, President Biden has never wavered on one prohibition: President Volodymyr Zelensky had to agree to never fire them into Russian territory, insisting that would violate Mr. Biden’s mandate to “avoid World War III.” But the consensus around that policy is fraying. Propelled by the State Department, there is now a vigorous debate inside the administration over relaxing the ban to allow the Ukrainians to hit missile and artillery launch sites just over the border in Russia — targets that Mr. Zelensky says have enabled Moscow’s recent territorial gains" White House and National Security Correspondent for The New York Times David E. Sanger wrote, APA reports.

It was reported that the proposal, pressed by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken after a sobering visit to Kyiv last week, is still in the formative stages, and it is not clear how many of his colleagues among Mr. Biden’s inner circle have signed on: "It has not yet been formally presented to the president, who has traditionally been the most cautious, officials said.

The State Department spokesman, Matthew A. Miller, declined to comment on the internal deliberations over Ukraine policy, including Mr. Blinken’s report after his return from Kyiv.

But officials involved in the deliberations said Mr. Blinken’s position had changed because the Russians had opened a new front in the war, with devastating results. Moscow’s forces have placed weapons right across the border from northeastern Ukraine and aimed them at Kharkiv — knowing the Ukrainians would only be able to use non-American drones and other weaponry to target them in response.

Now, the pressure is mounting on the United States to help Ukraine target Russian military sites, even if Washington wants to maintain its ban on attacking oil refineries and other Russian infrastructure with American-provided arms. Britain, usually in lockstep with Washington on war strategy, has quietly lifted its own restrictions, so that its “Storm Shadow” cruise systems can be used to target Russia more broadly.

The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, a former prime minister, said during a visit to Kyiv ahead of Mr. Blinken’s that Ukraine “absolutely has the right to strike back at Russia.”

The United States is now considering training Ukrainian troops inside the country, rather than sending them to a training ground in Germany. That would require putting American military personnel in Ukraine, something else that Mr. Biden has prohibited until now. It raises the question of how the United States would respond if the trainers, who would likely be based near the western city of Lviv, came under attack. The Russians have periodically targeted Lviv, though it is distant from the main areas of combat."

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