Will Biden let Ukraine strike inside Russia using U.S. weapons?


Category:  News & Politics

Via:  george  •  2 weeks ago  •  9 comments

By:   NBC News

Will Biden let Ukraine strike inside Russia using U.S. weapons?
President Joe Biden is under pressure from NATO allies and Kyiv to let Ukraine use U.S. weapons to strike targets inside Russia after the Kharkiv offensive.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

May 30, 2024, 9:06 AM UTCBy Yuliya Talmazan, Dan De Luce, Abigail Williams and Daryna Mayer

Let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike targets inside Russia.

That message, long a priority for Kyiv and its fiercest backers, is now being voiced by a growing number of Western leaders. The United States has so far remained unmoved by this pressure, putting it at odds with allies — and in the company of the Kremlin, which has warned against such a move.

But there are signs this could soon change.

The debate inside the Biden administration over the issue is ongoing, and some top officials back lifting the restrictions on how Ukraine uses weapons provided by Washington, two sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.

That debate has gained urgency since Russia launched a new cross-border offensive in Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region earlier this month, and Kyiv has warned that it could also be massing troops for another incursion in neighboring Sumy.

Ukraine feels it has been left handicapped, arguing that the restrictions on its use of Western-supplied weapons have given Moscow an unfair advantage.

Russia "can use the military infrastructure on its territory for the war against Ukraine without any obstacles," said Mykola Bielieskov, a research fellow at Ukraine's National Institute for Strategic Studies, a government research group.

"As a result, there is a powerful asymmetry," Bielieskov, based in Kyiv, told NBC News on Wednesday. "This has been talked about for a long time. It's just that the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region clearly showed this."

A Ukrainian mortar unit fires at a Russian position in the Kharkiv region earlier this month after the Kremlin launched its new offensive.Kostiantyn Liberov / Getty Images

The new urgency from Kyiv, which is still waiting for crucial U.S. military aid, has prompted a growing list of Western officials to back the idea of removing the restrictions on hitting targets inside Russia.

For much of the war, Kyiv's partners have drawn a solid red line at letting Ukraine use the weapons they supply inside Russian territory, fearing an escalation from the Kremlin that could turn the conflict into a World War III.

The Biden administration has been consistent in this stance, perhaps worried that Russian President Vladimir Putin could retaliate using nuclear weapons — which he has regularly threatened throughout the conflict.

But with Ukraine outnumbered, outgunned and on the back foot, Kyiv has been making a public case for its allies to loosen their restrictions.

And it seems to be working.

French President Emmanuel Macron became the latest high-profile backer of the idea Tuesday. He suggested Ukraine should be allowed to hit military targets inside Russia from which missiles were being fired at Ukrainian territory, an apparent compromise position.

He was joined by German leader Olaf Scholz, who had resisted the idea but agreed to the concept Tuesday.

It comes on the back of NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg's repeated pleas to let Ukraine use Western-supplied weapons to hit targets inside Russia, saying that not doing so hampers Kyiv's ability "to defend themselves." It's a view shared by a number of European members of the alliance, including the United Kingdom, Sweden and Poland.

In previous debates inside the Biden administration over how far to go in arming Ukraine, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA Director William Burns have staked out a bolder stance, supporting the provision of longer-range missiles and other weapons — and have often prevailed following appeals from lawmakers and European governments.

And on Wednesday, Blinken appeared to leave room for a shift on this issue, too.

"We haven't encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine. Ukraine, as I've said before, has to make its own decisions about the best way to effectively defend itself," he said during a trip to Europe that will include a NATO meeting Thursday. A "hallmark" of U.S. support for Ukraine, he said, "has been to adapt."

"As the conditions have changed, as the battlefield has changed, as what Russia does has changed," he added. "We've adapted and adjusted too and I'm confident we'll continue to do that."

The site of a Russian missile attack last week in Kharkiv, as Ukraine's second-largest city comes under heavy bombardment.@oleksiykuleba / AFP - Getty Images

The Kremlin has sought to ward off the move, with Putin warning European NATO states Tuesday that they were playing with fire and risking "global conflict."

Moscow recently staged exercises to simulate the use of tactical nuclear weapons, in a likely signal to the West against deeper involvement in Ukraine.

The risk of escalation seems to be exactly what's kept Biden reluctant to allow the use of American weapons on Russian soil, said Christopher Tuck, an expert in conflict and security at King's College London.

"Putin's comments should be seen in this light: he is attempting to feed the fears of those who believe that crossing this U.S. red line would move NATO's relationship with Russia into a new and dangerous phase," he said.

It's clear from frustration building in Ukraine that it will not violate the ban unless the U.S. softens its position.

"We cannot, and this is a fact, risk the support of partners," Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday. "Therefore, we do not use the weapons of our partners on the territory of the Russian Federation. And we appeal: give us the opportunity to retaliate against their military forces."

His comments came after a group of lawmakers from both parties last week publicly urged the White House to give Kyiv the green light.

"Ukrainians have been unable to defend themselves due to the Administration's current policy. It is essential the Biden Administration allows Ukraine's military leaders an ability to conduct a full spectrum of operations necessary to respond to Russia's unprovoked attack on their sovereign land," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

But the Biden administration's fears might be exacerbated by Ukraine's increasingly daring use of its own weapons, mostly drones, to strike strategic targets deep inside Russia such as oil refineries.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at a Czech defense capabilities event in Prague, on Thursday. Petr David Josek / AP

A Ukrainian drone targeted a long-range radar deep inside Russia that forms part of the country's ballistic missile early warning system Sunday, a Ukrainian intelligence official told NBC News. The official wanted to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to disclose details of the strike, which appeared to be the second in a week against infrastructure used by Moscow to monitor Ukraine's military activities.

Although the U.S. is likely to remove the restrictions on the use of its weapons inside Russia eventually, Tuck said, Ukraine would have to be careful about the sorts of targets that it attacks and would need to avoid inflicting civilian casualties.

It's also important to put any U.S. decision into perspective, he added.

"Russian forces have made slow progress in Kharkiv oblast, so it is likely that a U.S. decision would be in time to make a militarily useful contribution to the fight there," Tuck said. "But it isn't a decision that is going to change the course of the war."

Yuliya Talmazan

Yuliya Talmazan is a reporter for NBC News Digital, based in London.

Dan De Luce

Dan De Luce is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit.

Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams is a producer and reporter for NBC News covering the State Department.

Daryna Mayer

Daryna Mayer is an NBC News producer and reporter based in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Courtney Kube contributed.

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jrDiscussion - desc
Junior Expert
1  seeder  George    2 weeks ago

Can someone explain why Biden is sucking Putins dick? so all the weapons we are giving to Ukraine can only be used to attack their own territory? 

Professor Quiet
1.1  Ronin2  replied to  George @1    2 weeks ago

Ukraine is already hitting targets within Russia. As well as the Wagner group outside of Russia.

If NATO countries want to expand the war further (which granting Ukraine more powerful weapons to hit targets inside Russia would be); then when Russia decides to start hitting targets that supply Ukraine- including supply lines in Poland running to Ukraine- they can send their own forces to fight.

I am sick of the US wasting taxpayer money on worthless causes like Ukraine, Afghanistan, and the ME. In the long run it does far more damage than good.

Junior Expert
1.1.1  seeder  George  replied to  Ronin2 @1.1    2 weeks ago
Ukraine is already hitting targets within Russia.

Yes using their own home made weapons, they are not allowed to use western made weapons to attack Russian territory. 

Jeremy Retired in NC
Professor Expert
1.2  Jeremy Retired in NC  replied to  George @1    2 weeks ago
Can someone explain why Biden is sucking Putins dick?

Because Putin's attack on Ukraine helps cover up the corruption he's involved with in Ukraine.

Just Jim NC TttH
Professor Principal
1.3  Just Jim NC TttH  replied to  George @1    2 weeks ago
Can someone explain why Biden is sucking Putins dick

Well according to some here, Trump was so I guess Biden is trying to prove he is indeed better at it than Trump.............../S

Junior Expert
1.3.1  seeder  George  replied to  Just Jim NC TttH @1.3    2 weeks ago

He is senile enough to think Putin is a teenage girl.

Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
2  Sean Treacy    2 weeks ago

Got to keep the gas prices low for Biden’s reelection.  

Professor Expert
3  Nerm_L    2 weeks ago

Let's see a show of hands.  Who thinks Ukraine can defeat Russia?  

Ukraine has boasted that Russia has experienced over 500,000 casualties, lost 7,700 tanks, 15,000 armored vehicles, 13,000 artillery systems, 18,000 support vehicles, and 600 aircraft.      Ukraine has attacked the Kerch Strait bridge, has attacked and sunk ships of the Black Sea fleet, has struck airfields, ammunition dumps, and oil storage inside Russia.  Ukraine has been striking deep within Russia using its own domestically manufactured weapons.  Ukraine has struck Moscow.  How has that materially changed the war inside Ukraine?  Has there been any indications that Putin or Russia is backing down?

Dragging the United States into a direct war with Russia will only transform Europe into a battleground; just like Ukraine.  There would be air raid sirens in Paris.  And there is no guarantee that the US military could defeat Russia.  It's obvious Europeans think they can dump the cost of the war onto American taxpayers, they're not taking into consideration that Europe could become the world's first nuclear battleground.  

PhD Principal
3.1  Hallux  replied to  Nerm_L @3    2 weeks ago
Has there been any indications that Putin or Russia is backing down?

Hang in there, he's been firing generals lately ... very Stalinesque.


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