Biden Approves Limited Use of U.S. Weapons for Ukrainian Strikes in Russia


President Joe Biden’s recent decision to permit Ukraine to utilize U.S. weapons in specific scenarios to strike targets within Russian territory marks a significant shift in policy.

This change comes in response to weeks of Russian military buildup along the border, aimed at launching attacks on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, situated about 20 miles from the Russian border.

With this new policy, Ukraine can now employ U.S. weapons for “counter-fire purposes in the Kharkiv region to retaliate against Russian forces that are attacking them or preparing to attack them,” according to a State Department spokesperson. However, Ukrainians are still restricted from executing “long-range strikes inside of Russia.”

Mark Cancian, senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, characterized the president’s decision as taking “one step on the escalation ladder,” rather than “racing up a ladder.”

“There will be a debate after this about whether we should take the next step at deeper targets, different targets, strategic targets, not just local tactical targets,” Cancian conveyed. “I think they will happen almost immediately because the European allies are moving in that direction.”

He noted that Russia is likely to adjust its targets and tactics in response to Biden’s policy shift.

Biden’s reversal coincides with the United States and several NATO allies reassessing the conditions attached to the military aid provided to Ukraine in light of Russia’s recent battlefield successes, partially attributed to months of inconsistent U.S. assistance to the Ukrainians.

This development is the latest in a series of escalations referenced by Cancian, including previous instances where Biden reconsidered his stance and ultimately chose to supply Ukraine with M1 tanks, the Patriot missile defense system, and Army Tactical Missile Systems.

High-ranking Republican lawmakers specializing in national security have advocated for Biden to further relax U.S. restrictions on Ukraine.

“Ukraine can’t win this war with one hand tied behind its back,” stated Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The Russian mainland, including just steps across the border, must not remain a total sanctuary to continue its unprovoked and illegal war. It’s about time the Biden administration joined our allies in Britain, France, and even Germany in allowing Ukraine to hit back. The Administration should abandon its ‘drip-drip-drip’ policies and embrace my mantra of ‘more, better, and faster’ to arming Ukraine.”

Similarly, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-AL), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee; Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Mike Turner (R-OH), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a joint statement arguing that the president should have made the decision “before Russia’s recent offensive in Kharkiv, not after.”

“To win this war of self-defense against Russia’s aggression, Ukraine must be allowed to use U.S.-provided weapons against any legitimate military targets in Russia, not just along the border near Kharkiv,” they added. “Once again, President Biden’s policy of slow walking and half-measures is dragging out this conflict without providing Ukraine with a decisive advantage on the battlefield to force Vladimir Putin to the negotiating table as soon as possible.”

Mike Brest
Mike Brest
Defense Reporter. Prior to joining the defense beat, he spent two years covering breaking news, and he worked at the Daily Caller in a similar capacity before that. Mike graduated from American University and is originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia.

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