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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the audience during the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2, 2024. (Ore Huiying/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky on June 2 said the U.S. should allow Ukraine to strike inside Russia with long-range Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles to protect lives.

Zelensky’s statement comes shortly after the White House confirmed that it lifted the ban on the use of some U.S. weapons by Ukraine against Russian territory near Kharkiv and Sumy oblasts.

Washington still prohibits Ukraine from using ATACMS and other long-range U.S.-supplied weapons for strikes deeper inside Russia, U.S. officials said.

Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, Zelensky thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for the permission but insisted that restrictions – including the ban on the use of ATACMS – should be lifted.

“Is that sufficient? No. Why? Because I have given you the example of airfields from which Russia is permanently firing, in calm, knowing that Ukraine will not fire back because it has no corresponding systems and no permissions,” Zelensky said, as cited by The Telegraph, in reaction to Washington’s decision.

Zelensky said Kyiv was waiting for the approval to strike Russian military airfields, the staging grounds for attacks against civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. He added that Russia has about 300 weapon systems – loaded with tens of thousands of missiles – deployed on its side of the border to attack Ukraine, The Telegraph reported.

“So they have these weapons there, and they do not remove them because they know that Ukraine cannot target them with Western weaponry even if they fire against us,” Zelensky said.

The topic of the Western allies’ ban on Ukraine attacking Russia using their weapons has gained wide attention after Moscow opened a new front in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast in May, where it was able to ready for an operation without significant Ukrainian cross-border threats.

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.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has hinted that Washington may allow Ukraine to hit targets beyond the current limitation in the future." Going forward, we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is, as necessary, adapt and adjust," he said at a press conference in Prague on May 31.

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