Written by 08:30 World

Ukraine Buoyed by Biden’s Move on Using Weapons to Strike Russia

Lt. Denys Yaroslavsky, a Ukrainian intelligence officer, was visiting military positions near the Russian border on Friday when he met an artillery commander whose American-made howitzer was pointed toward Russia.

The commander was in a buoyant mood, Lieutenant Yaroslavsky said, recounting the episode. Russian territory was within range. “He was happy, and he said, ‘Now we can finally hit them.’”

For weeks Ukrainian officials had cited the need to remove the shackles on their commanders as they appealed to allies to allow a more effective defense, using Western weaponry. That consent finally came in a significant way on Thursday when the United States amended its policy after months of resistance, saying Ukraine could use American-provided weapons to hit military targets in Russia.

The shift is narrow in scope, granting Ukraine permission to use American air defense systems, guided rockets and artillery to fire into Russia only along Ukraine’s northeastern border. Fighting has been raging there near the city of Kharkiv for the past three weeks after Russian troops poured over the border to open a new front in the war.

But hitting targets with American weapons inside Russia had been a red line drawn by the Biden administration because of worries about escalation into a broader conflict. Ukrainian officials tried to assuage that fear by framing the use of Western weapons as a purely defensive tactic, pointing out how Russia has been launching missiles and gathering forces in the safety of its own territory, out of range of Ukraine’s Soviet-era weaponry.

Indeed, in granting permission, U.S. officials said the weapons should be used only in self-defense in the border region.


Last modified: 1 June 2024