Sources: Biden Gave Secret OK to Ukraine to Use US Weapons

Ukraine can now strike just inside Russia to defend itself using US-made weapons
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2024 6:31 AM CDT
Sources: Biden Gave Secret OK to Ukraine to Use US Weapons
People react after a Russian missile attack hit their apartment building in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Andrii Marienko)

As Ukrainian forces continue to defend their country's second-largest city, sources tell the AP that President Biden has given the OK to use US-provided weapons to strike inside Russia. The green light is limited strictly in the area surrounding Kharkiv, about 12 miles from the Russian border, and with no long-range strikes deep inside Russia. Civilian infrastructure also can't be attacked. "The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use US weapons for counterfire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them," a US official tells Politico, which first reported on the development.

President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials had been arguing that not being able to hit inside Russia had more or less made sitting ducks out of Ukrainian forces, and talks to pull back restrictions had ramped up a couple of weeks ago, when Russia made a harder push into Kharkiv. After a May 13 meeting with their Ukrainian counterparts, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, national security adviser Jake Sullivan, and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Gen. CQ Brown worked on a recommendation for Biden, which was presented to him two days later. Meanwhile, Zelensky put the pressure on Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the same matter during Blinken's visit to Kyiv two weeks ago.

After hearing from all of these men, Biden still "remained cautious and asked for due diligence before giving final approval," the AP notes. The guidance went into effect on Thursday. Biden had previously instructed that US weapons be used in Ukraine only, for fear of provoking Moscow and expanding the war. Other US allies, including the UK and France, have noted that Ukraine should be able to strike inside Russia with weapons from the West as needed to defend itself. Meanwhile, on Friday, Ukrainian officials say a Kharkiv suburb was slammed by Russian shelling, killing three and injuring 16, reports the BBC. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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