Written by 03:17 World

Ukraine Steps Up Attacks With U.S. Long-Range Missiles

The Ukrainian army has increasingly used U.S.-supplied long-range missiles to target Russian airfields and warships deep inside Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory, but it has been barred by Washington from extending its attacks into Russia proper, limiting its ability to repel enemy assaults.

In the past week, Kyiv’s forces launched three attacks using Army Tactical Missile Systems, known as ATACMS. The air assaults — which hit an air-defense system and a missile ship in Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine’s east and south — were reported by both sides, and their impact was confirmed by independent groups that analyze geolocated footage of the battlefield.

Ukraine hopes that the strikes, by hurting Moscow’s ability to conduct military operations, will ultimately help relieve troops struggling to contain Russian advances on the ground. But the United States and other Western allies have permitted only the firing of Western weapons into Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine, not into Russia itself, for fear of escalating the war.

Ukrainian officials have complained that the policy allows Moscow to launch attacks from inside Russia without risk and handcuffs Ukraine’s ability to repel them. “They proceed calmly, understanding that our partners do not give us permission” to strike, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said in an interview with The New York Times this past week. “This is their huge advantage.”

Now, pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to reverse that policy in the face of Ukraine’s difficulties on the battlefield. The latest call came on Friday, with NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, telling The Economist that denying “Ukraine the possibility of using these weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory makes it very hard for them to defend themselves.”

Reinforcing Kyiv’s case that hitting targets inside Russia is a matter of life and death, Ukrainian officials said that Russia hit a shopping center on Saturday in Kharkiv with powerful glide bombs, killing at least six people and injuring at least 40 others. The bombs can fly several dozen miles, allowing Russian warplanes to launch them with relative impunity from inside Russia.

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Last modified: 28 May 2024
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