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Ukraine wants green light to hit Russian soil with US weapons: report

Ukrainian parliamentary officials are pressuring the Biden administration to remove restrictions on kyiv striking targets on Russian territory with its arsenal of US weapons, Politico reported.

In an interview published Tuesday, the media outlet cited two parliamentarians, David Arakhamia and Oleksandra Ustinova, who were visiting Washington to gather support for this request.

Ustinova, head of Ukraine’s special parliamentary committee on arms and ammunition and leader of the opposition Holos party, has repeatedly spoken about the difficulties kyiv faces due to the strike ban.

“We saw their military stationed one or two kilometers from the Russian border, and there was nothing we could do about it,” Ustinova told Politico.

Russia launched an offensive in the northeastern Kharkiv region over the weekend, capturing several settlements and targeting bridges in the area. These new incursions come more than a year after Ukraine retook the region in mid-2022.

Ukraine had known for weeks that Russia was massing troops on the border, with intelligence officials saying in early May that Moscow was amassing between 50,000 and 70,000 people there.

But the Russian advance has angered some Ukrainians, who wonder why the area appears lightly defended after videos emerged showing Moscow’s troops marching through the area unopposed. Ukrainian media reported that the top general responsible for the region’s defense was fired on Tuesday.

Speaking to Politico, Ustinova said the Russians have become “smart now because they know there is a restriction on Ukrainians shooting into Russian territory.”

“And we saw all their military equipment a mile or two from the border and there was nothing we could do,” she said.

Some observers say Moscow’s goal on the northern front may be to establish a “buffer zone” that would prevent Ukrainian forces from attacking the Russian border instead of moving toward the city of Kharkiv.

It also gives the Kremlin space to roll out artillery that can reach the city of Kharkiv. Ustinova told Politico that Russia aimed to make Kharkiv a repeat of the Battle of Mariupol, where fighting was so intense that much of the eastern city was effectively razed.

“You give us a stick, but you don’t let us use it,” she said.

The Washington-based think tank the Institute for the Study of War on Sunday agreed with an assessment that Russia was able to advance in Kharkiv because of NATO’s weapons strike ban.

“Russian offensive efforts to seize Vovchansk are largely a consequence of the unspoken Western policy that Ukrainian forces cannot use Western-supplied systems to strike legitimate military targets in Russia,” writes the text.

Ukraine has attacked targets across the border – most recently against Russian oil installations – but only with its own drones.

Washington and its allies fear that allowing Ukraine to attack Russian soil with Western equipment would cross a red line with Moscow.

Although it is not immediately clear whether this would lead to all-out war, the Kremlin has other methods of fighting back, including staging terrorist attacks with radical groups based in the West.

To this end, some weapon systems, such as the U.S.-supplied HIMARS launchers given to Ukraine, were modified before delivery to prevent them from firing at Russia.

This policy has been criticized as a way to effectively protect Russia from a significant Ukrainian counterattack. Still, two unnamed U.S. officials told Politico that the Biden administration is not changing the rules.

“The aid is intended for defense and not for offensive operations on Russian territory,” an official said, according to Politico.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of normal business hours by Business Insider.

kyiv has relied heavily on Western-supplied equipment to hold back Russia’s advance, saying U.S. artillery played a major role in its defense. The United States recently allocated some $25.7 billion to Ukraine in military equipment and weapons, part of a new $61 billion aid tranche that Congress has held up for months.

businessinsider

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