Biden and Scholz both agree Kyiv can use Western weapons to strike targets in Russia — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Biden and Scholz both agree Kyiv can use Western weapons to strike targets in Russia

US President Joe Biden has quietly given the go-ahead for Ukraine to use weapons supplied by Washington for strikes on targets inside Russia, Politico reported on Thursday, quoting US officials.

“The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use US weapons for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them,” an unnamed US official told Politico, adding that the policy prohibiting Ukraine from launching long-range strikes inside Russia “has not changed”.

Politico suggested that the decision to allow Ukraine to defend its second city Kharkiv, in the east of the country, where Russia opened a new front earlier in May, could be a turning point in the war.

Calling the policy reversal “a stunning shift”, Politico recalled that the Biden administration had initially feared the move would escalate the war by more directly involving the US in the conflict. “But worsening conditions for Ukraine on the battlefield — namely Russia’s advances and improved position in Kharkiv — led the president to change his mind.”

The change in US policy comes among much hand-wringing by Ukraine’s allies on the use of the weapons they have provided to Kyiv, with both the Italian and German governments voicing their opposition to moves to allow Ukraine more freedom to retaliate.

However, German news website Spiegel reported on Friday that the country’s coalition government had also approved Ukraine’s use of German-supplied weapons for strikes on Russia.

Having previously stressed that Germany had only supplied weapons to Kyiv to prevent a further escalation of the war, Chancellor Olaf Scholz appears to have reassessed his stance in view of the worsening battlefield situation since Russia began a fresh offensive on the Kharkiv region earlier in May.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, reacted to the news on Friday with trademark bluster in a lengthy Telegram tirade, in which he vowed Russia would unleash hellfire and brimstone on Western countries should there be further escalation.

Medvedev, accusing NATO of having direct control of all long-range weapons stationed in what he termed “former Ukraine”, threatened their destruction along with similar weapons in other countries from where attacks on Russia were launched.

Expressing his frustration at the delays in promised Western weapon supplies and at allied indecision on their deployment, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an interview with The Guardian on Friday that while he understood the West had different priorities and lacked Ukraine’s sense of existential urgency, he sometimes thought that “the murderers, terrorists, who are killing us from the Russian side” were “laughing at this situation”.

“They understand that we can see them, but we cannot reach them,” Zelensky added.

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