US Secretary of State supports allowing Ukraine to hit Russia with US-supplied weapons – the NYT

Thursday, 23 May 2024

The New York Times has reported that the White House is debating whether to allow Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons to strike Russian territory, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging President Joe Biden to lift the restrictions after a sobering trip to Kyiv.

According to the New York Times (NYT), at the initiative of the Department of State, the Biden administration is currently actively debating whether to allow Ukrainians to strike missile launchers and artillery systems located directly near the border on the Russian side. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that these were the targets that had made Moscow's recent territorial gains possible.

Blinken's proposal, which he made after a visit to Kyiv last week, is still in its formative stages. The NYT noted that it was unclear how many of his colleagues in Biden's inner circle had signed up to the idea. Officials said that the document had not yet been formally presented to Biden, who is traditionally the most cautious.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller declined to comment on internal discussions about Ukraine policy, including Blinken’s report after he returned from Kyiv.


But officials involved in the discussion said Blinken's position changed as the Russians had launched a new offensive. Russian troops have deployed weapons just across the border from Ukraine’s northeast and aimed them at Kharkiv, knowing that Ukrainians would only be able to use non-US drones and other weapons to retaliate.

The NYT pointed out that for the last few months, Ukraine had been stepping up attacks on Russian vessels, oil facilities and power plants, but it had been doing so mostly with domestically produced drones, which did not have the power and speed of American weapons. In addition, the Russians often shoot down Ukrainian drones and missiles or jam them off-course through advanced electronic warfare devices.

Pressure is now mounting on the United States to help Ukraine strike military targets in Russia, even if Washington wants to maintain its ban on attacking oil refineries and other Russian infrastructure with US-supplied weapons.

The NYT emphasised that the UK, which usually keeps pace with Washington on military strategy, had quietly lifted its own restrictions so that its Storm Shadow cruise missile system could be used to target Russia more broadly.

The change of course could also affect the future training of Ukrainian soldiers. Until now, they have been training with Western weapons at a training ground in Germany. The US is now also considering sending its military to Ukraine for training, which Biden had previously banned.

It was reported that US House Speaker Mike Johnson believed that the United States should allow Ukraine to wage war "in the way they see fit", commenting on Kyiv's request to allow it to use American weapons to strike Russian territory.

Earlier, the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee released an appeal from a group of congressmen from both parties to Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, calling for a faster delivery of weapons to Ukraine and allowing Ukraine to attack targets in Russia.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed in an interview with Reuters that Ukraine is in talks with international partners about the possibility of striking targets in Russia with their weapons.

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