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Biden's reversal on Ukraine's weapons restrictions is 'half-measure,' US congressmen say

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 1, 2024 5:09 PM 2 min read
A U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is fired during a joint training between the U.S. and South Korea, on Oct. 5, 2022 at an undisclosed location. Photo for illustrative purposes. (South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)
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A group of Republican congressmen released a letter on May 31 criticizing U.S. President Joe Biden's reluctance to fully lift restrictions on Ukraine's use of U.S. weapons against Russian territory.

The White House has confirmed that it lifted the ban on the use of some U.S. weapons by Ukraine against Russian territory near Kharkiv and Sumy oblasts. However, Ukraine is still banned form using long-range ATACMS missiles against Russian territory.

"By leaking to the press that the policy reversal only applies to certain U.S.-provided weapons in a limited area within Russia, the (Biden) administration has telegraphed to Russia exactly how to effectively adapt to this change in policy, thereby decreasing the military effectiveness of the decision," the letter said.

"To win this war of self-defense against Russia's aggression, Ukraine must be allowed to use U.S.-provided weapons against any legitimate military targets in Russia, not just along the border near Kharkiv."

The letter, which was signed by Michael McCaul, Mike Turner, and Mike Rodgers, said that the "decision should have been made before Russia's recent offensive in Kharkiv, not after."

Moscow launched a new offensive on May 10 in Kharkiv Oblast. While the Ukrainian military said it has managed to largely stabilize the situation, Russia has continued to launch attacks at the city of Kharkiv and the surrounding area.

Amid growing calls from Western leaders to allow Ukraine to use foreign-supplied arms to hit targets in Russia, there have been reports in recent days that the U.S. has changed its policy.

The Wall Street Journal reported on May 31 that the U.S. had allowed Ukraine to use HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, GMLRS rockets, and artillery against Russian territory.

Serhii Nykyforov, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Presidential Office, said on May 31 that the U.S. had given Ukraine permission to use American-supplied weapons to strike targets in Russia located near the border with Kharkiv Oblast, but still prohibited the use of ATACMS and other long-range weapons.

Later in the day, Michael Carpenter, senior director for Europe at the U.S. National Security Council, said that the U.S. would allow Ukraine to strike targets in Russia across the border from both Kharkiv and Sumy oblasts with American-supplied weapons. He also said that the ban on ATACMS is still in effect.

Ukraine urges allies to lift Western arms ban on hitting targets inside Russia. Will they?
Following a new Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine is increasingly raising pressure on its allies, urging them to lift restrictions on the use of Western-provided weapons against military targets inside Russia. Months before the offensive, Kyiv had publicly pledged not to use Western-made…

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