Biden Maneuvers Through Complex Relations with Two of America’s Challenging Allies: Israel and Ukraine

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TL/DR –

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has publicly pressured US President Joe Biden to soften his restrictions on firing American weapons across the Russian border. Following an Oval Office meeting, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and others convinced Biden to lift restrictions in border areas around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Ukraine announced it had used Western-provided weapons to destroy a Russian air-defense system, prompting a warning from Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, about “fatal consequences” if Western-provided weapons struck Russia.


Ukraine Conflict: US reviews policy on weapons use

The change in momentum in Ukraine has led President Biden to reassess his stance on the country’s use of American weapons. Mr. Biden’s top advisors highlighted that the situation has drastically shifted, prompting a reconsideration of the previous restrictions.

Ukraine’s President, Mr. Zelensky, has persistently urged the US government, including Mr. Biden and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, to provide long-range artillery and other weapons. His appeals became public during an interview with The New York Times where he urged the US to “Shoot down what’s in the sky over Ukraine”.

After visiting Kyiv, Mr. Blinken and other top officials, including the national security advisor Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, persuaded Mr. Biden to lift the restrictions. They posited that failure to do so could lead to Russia reclaiming significant territories that it lost in the fall of 2022, especially around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

On Monday, Ukraine announced it had used Western-provided weapons to destroy a Russian air-defense system. Russia responded with a stern warning through deputy foreign minister, Sergei A. Ryabkov, highlighting potential “fatal consequences” if Western-provided weapons were used against Russia.

US officials maintain that the shift in policy is more of creating an exception to the non-escalation rule, rather than a complete reversal. Mr. Blinken implied that American strategy against Russia could adapt further, depending on battlefield changes.

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