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US lawmakers urge Pentagon to permit Ukraine's use of US-supplied weapons to strike targets in Russia

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 21, 2024 11:13 PM 2 min read
Mike Turner, the chair of the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee, during a press conference of members of the U.S. Congress Delegation on Feb. 9, 2024, in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Vitalii Nosach/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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A bipartisan group of U.S. members of Congress wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on May 20, urging the Pentagon to permit Ukraine to strike Russian territory with U.S.-supplied weapons.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said that they do not support or encourage Kyiv's strikes with American weapons deep inside Russia, while Ukrainian officials are reportedly trying to convince Washington to lift this ban.

Ukraine recently said that Washington's ban meant Ukraine was unable to attack Russian forces as they were building up before crossing the border into Kharkiv Oblast in the renewed Russian offensive that began earlier in May.

The letter, which was signed by Congressman Mike Turner, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, and 12 other representatives from both parties, asked the Pentagon to allow Ukraine to "use certain weapons provided by the U.S. to conduct operations on strategic targets inside Russian and Russian-controlled territory."

"Ukrainians have been unable to defend themselves due to the (Biden) Administration's current policy. It is essential the Biden Administration allows Ukraine's military leaders an ability to conduct a full spectrum of operations necessary to respond to Russia’s unprovoked attack on their sovereign land," the letter continued.

The sentiment was recently echoed by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, who said that the U.S. restriction on using long-range ATACMS missiles inside Russia was a "mistake."

The representatives also requested that the U.S. help train more Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets and provide more air defense, namely "upwards of seven additional Patriot batteries."

President Volodymyr Zelensky said earlier in May that Ukraine could prevent the occupation of Kharkiv with just two more Patriot batteries.

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