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Pressed on strikes inside Russia, Blinken says US stance will 'adapt and adjust as necessary'

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 29, 2024 8:26 PM 2 min read
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Oct. 5, 2023. (Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Washington will "adapt and adjust as necessary" its ban on allowing Ukraine to hit targets inside Russia with U.S.-supplied weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on May 29.

The restriction prevented Kyiv from attacking Russian forces massing near Kharkiv Oblast for their offensive launched earlier in May, with advanced U.S. weaponry like ATACMS missiles.

In recent days a growing number of Ukraine's allies as well as NATO have said Ukraine should be allowed to strike inside Russia, ramping up pressure on Washington to do the same.

Most recently, representatives of Finland, Canada, and Poland issued separate statements on May 29 saying Ukraine can use their weapons to strike targets on Russian territory.

Speaking on a visit to Moldova on the eve of NATO talks in Prague, Blinken said that as battlefield conditions have changed during Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has "adapted and adjusted" the support and weapons it has provided.

When pressed on whether this meant the U.S. would change its policy on striking targets inside Russia, he said: "At every step along the way we've adapted and adjusted as necessary. And so that's exactly what we'll do going forward.

"We're always listening, we're always learning and we're always making determinations about what's necessary to make sure that Ukraine can effectively continue to defend itself."

Earlier this month, The New York Times (NYT) reported Blinken was pushing the Biden administration for a change in policy after a "sobering" visit to Kyiv.

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.

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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