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NYT: Blinken favors lifting ban on Ukrainian strikes inside Russia with US arms

by Martin Fornusek May 23, 2024 9:43 AM 2 min read
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a press conference at the State Department on Aug. 15, 2023, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
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After his "sobering visit" to Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants the White House to allow Ukraine to strike inside Russian territory with American-supplied arms, The New York Times (NYT) reported on May 22, citing undisclosed official sources.

The ban has prevented Kyiv from attacking Russian forces, which were amassing near Kharkiv Oblast for their offensive launched earlier in May, with advanced U.S. weaponry like ATACMS missiles.

The U.S. State Department began a "vigorous debate" inside President Joe Biden's administration on this policy after Blinken's two-day visit to Ukraine's capital, which took place only days after Russia launched the new offensive. It was the situation in Kharkiv Oblast that changed Blinken's position, the NYT wrote.

The news outlet noted that the proposal is still "in the formative stages" and that it is unclear how many other high-ranking officials in Biden's team will support it.

The plan would include permitting strikes against Russian military facilities but perhaps not oil refineries and other infrastructure that Ukraine has been hitting with homemade drones, according to the outlet.

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The idea has reportedly not yet been formally proposed to the U.S. president, who has so far been adamant about the ban, fearing a potential escalation with Russia.

The Pentagon has also reiterated this position, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently hinted that the rules might be different in regards to aerial targets.

"The aerial dynamic's a little bit different," Austin said during a press conference on May 20 but avoided saying explicitly whether attacks against Russian aircraft with U.S. arms are off-limit or not.

Unlike Washington, the U.K. said it does not oppose Ukraine using British-supplied arms – which include Storm Shadow missiles – to strike Russian soil, provoking threats from Moscow.

"(British Ambassador to Moscow Nigel) Casey was warned that in response to Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory with British weapons, any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and abroad could be targeted," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Blinken: Washington has not encouraged Ukraine to strike inside Russia with US weapons, but decision up to Kyiv
Blinken was asked about recent Ukrainian complaints that a Washington ban meant Ukraine could not strike Russian forces as they built up before crossing the border into Kharkiv Oblast.
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