White House Debates Allowing Ukraine to Fire U.S. Weapons into Russia



The U.S. is in a vigorous debate about allowing Ukraine to strike military targets in Russia with American-provided weapons, a change in policy proposed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The adjustment is considered due to Russia’s recent tactics, placing weapons on its side of the border and targeting Ukrainian cities. The U.S. is also considering training Ukrainian troops within the country, which would require the presence of American military personnel in Ukraine, another aspect previously prohibited by President Biden.

U.S. Administration Considers Relaxing Ban on Ukrainian Use of American Weapons Against Russia

Since the first shipments of high-tech weaponry to Ukraine, President Biden has maintained a strict prohibition: President Zelensky had to promise not to fire them into Russian territory, a step Biden stressed would risk sparking World War III. However, this policy is now being questioned, with vigorous debate within his administration, largely spurred by the State Department, about allowing Ukraine to target missile and artillery launch sites just over the Russian border.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, following a grave visit to Kyiv, is leading this proposal. Yet, it’s unclear how many other officials are in agreement, and President Biden, traditionally the most cautious, has not yet formally reviewed it. The State Department spokesman, Matthew A. Miller, has declined to comment on these internal deliberations.

According to officials engaged in these discussions, Blinken’s stance altered due to new war fronts opened by Russia, leading to devastating outcomes. Moscow’s forces have positioned weapons across the border from northeastern Ukraine, targeting Kharkiv and exploiting Ukraine’s limited capability to respond with non-American weaponry.

For months, Zelensky has been retaliating against Russian ships, oil facilities, and power plants, primarily utilizing Ukrainian-made drones. However, these don’t match the power of American weapons. Furthermore, Russia’s improved electronic warfare techniques are increasingly hindering the effectiveness of Ukrainian drones and missiles.

Pressure is growing on the U.S. to aid Ukraine in targeting Russian military sites. Britain has discreetly lifted its own restrictions, enabling its “Storm Shadow” cruise systems to target Russia more broadly. The U.S. is now considering training Ukrainian troops inside the country, a shift that would require sending American military personnel to Ukraine, something Biden has previously prohibited.

In recent days, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hinted at a potential shift in policy, suggesting exceptions might be made for Russian aircraft operating just over the border. Russia has exploited this safety, launching glide bombs into eastern Ukraine.

This week, Russia began high-profile exercises with units capable of deploying tactical nuclear weapons, a potential threat to Ukrainian troops. This move, according to Russian media, is in response to provocations and threats from Western officials against Russia. However, the U.S. administration appears less sensitive to such threats than at the start of the war.

In a break from the administration’s stance, former State Department official Victoria Nuland advocated for lifting the ban on using American weapons against targets inside Russia. “I think it’s time for that because Russia has obviously escalated this war,” she stated.

In an interview this week, President Zelensky dismissed escalation concerns, stating that Russia had already escalated the war. He expressed doubts about Putin’s threat to deploy a nuclear weapon and urged for Ukraine’s right to use American weapons against Russian military units.

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