Biden allows Ukraine to use US-supplied arms to strike inside Russia near Kharkiv area, say US officials

By Thomson Reuters May 30, 2024 | 4:02 PM

By Steve Holland and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON/PRAGUE (Reuters) – President Joe Biden has quietly allowed Kyiv to fire U.S.-supplied weapons at targets inside Russia but only near the border with the area around Ukraine’s northern city of Kharkiv, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The decision amounts to a policy shift by Biden, who until now steadfastly refused to let Ukraine use American weaponry for strikes inside Russia.

“The President recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use U.S.-supplied weapons for counter-fire purposes in the Kharkiv region so Ukraine can hit back against Russian forces that are attacking them or preparing to attack them,” said one U.S. official.

Russia’s embassy in Washington and Russia’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

NATO allies have been calling on the U.S. to allow Ukraine to use Western weapons against missile launchers and other military sites inside Russia that are supporting a cross-border offensive that Moscow launched toward Kharkiv this month.

Russia jetfighters flying inside Russia have been backing the drive by launching glide bombs at Kharkiv and Ukrainian defense lines.

Word of Biden’s decision broke shortly after the Pentagon said the U.S. policy against use of U.S. weapons inside Russia had remained unchanged.

“The security assistance that we provide Ukraine is to be used within Ukraine. And we don’t encourage attacks, or enable attacks, inside of Russia,” said Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Humeyra Pamuk and Phil Stewart; editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio)