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Ukraine pushing US to allow strikes deeper into Russia – AP

Kiev reportedly believes that only “desperate battlefield conditions” will prompt Washington to authorize long-range ATACMS use

Ukrainian officials are imploring the US to allow the use of American-made ATACMS long-range missiles for strikes deep into Russia, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.

In late May, several US outlets reported that Washington had given the green light for Ukrainian cross-border attacks using the weapons in order to repel Moscow’s offensive in Kharkov Region. The shift in policy was later confirmed by US President Joe Biden, who said that Ukraine could use US-made arms “only in proximity to the border [with Russia] when [Russian weapons] are being used on the other side of the border to attack specific targets in Ukraine.”

Washington is “not authorizing strikes 200 miles [322km] into Russia and we’re not authorizing strikes on Moscow, on the Kremlin,” he said at the time. Later, the Pentagon announced that Ukraine could use US-supplied weapons beyond Kharkov Region to respond to a cross-border attack from Russia, as long as it did not use long-range weapons to strike deep into its neighbor’s territory.

Three unnamed US officials interviewed by AP confirmed, however, that the Biden administration still does not allow Ukraine to use ATACMS missiles with a range of up to 300km to strike inside Russian territory. Ukrainian commanders told the agency that under the current rules of engagement for using ATACMS “their hands are tied.”

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If the US were to reverse this policy, Kiev “could target [Russian] brigade command points and the entire northern grouping, because they are located 100 to 150 kilometers from the front line,” an artillery commander with the callsign ‘Hefastus’ said.

”Unfortunately, we still cannot reach, for example, airfields and their aircraft. This is the problem,” said Egor Cherniev, deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on national security. He asked Kiev’s backers to lift restrictions on the use of long-range missiles against limited military targets in Russia.

One Ukrainian drone company commander noted that “it seems pretty absurd when the enemy is so actively advancing on our territory… and we cannot strike back inside the enemy’s territory where they hold logistics and supplies.”

According to AP, while Ukrainian officials hope to convince the US to approve such a policy shift, they believe that “only desperate battlefield conditions” can bring that about.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Ukrainian attacks into Russian territory using Western-supplied weapons are “close to aggression,” warning that Moscow could arm North Korea to mirror Western long-range weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

June 23, 2024 at 02:02PM

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