US: Ukraine Can Strike ‘Anywhere’ Russian Forces May Cross Border

Last month, the White House gave Kiev approval to strike military targets in one Russian region

Ukraine has been authorized to use US-supplied weapons to strike the Russian mainland wherever Moscow’s troops are advancing from across the border, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told PBS on Tuesday. The Pentagon also reiterated the escalatory change in policy on Thursday. Ukraine has suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties and continues losing territory in its war with Russia, in which Kiev serves as a NATO proxy.

The White House green-lit Ukrainian strikes with American arms on Russia’s side of the border last month. At the time, the policy was supposed to only extend near the eastern Kharkiv region, where Moscow’s forces had been advancing. However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who led the push within the administration to allow Ukraine to strike Russia, suggested even that restriction could be loosened by saying the US would “adapt and adjust” to suit Kiev’s needs based on changing battlefield conditions.

Now Ukraine can fire American weapons “anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory,” Sullivan said. Moscow has indicated it plans to attack the northeastern city of Sumy, located near the shared border, and Sullivan added that Ukraine could also strike Russian forces over the border there as an example.

“This is not about geography. It’s about common sense. If Russia is attacking or about to attack from its territory into Ukraine, it only makes sense to allow Ukraine to hit back against the forces that are hitting it from across the border,” he explained.

On Thursday, Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters there had been no change in policy. He similarly argued that the widening scope of allowable targets inside Russia – the country with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal – “makes sense.”

“The ability to be able to fire back when fired upon is really what this policy is focused on… as we see Russian forces firing across the border, the ability for Ukraine to fire back at those ground forces using U.S.-provided munitions.. [is] self-defense and so it makes sense for them to be able to do that,” Ryder said.

Moreover, during the PBS interview, Sullivan declared Kiev can use air defense systems, “including those supplied by the United States, to take Russian planes out of the sky, even if those Russian planes are in Russian airspace, if they’re about to fire into Ukrainian airspace.”

The White House is attempting to frame this latest step up the escalation ladder as not significant, or even a change in policy. But when the restriction was lifted on Ukraine last month, it was explicitly supposed to apply over the border outside Kharkiv only. At the time, a senior official told Politico that “[Biden] directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use U.S. weapons for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them.”

Per CNN, as recently as last week Pentagon Secretary Lloyd Austin insisted “Ukraine requested permission to conduct counter-fire in the Kharkiv area using US weapons, and President Biden granted them permission to do that…but the ability to conduct counter-fire in this close fight in the Kharkiv region is – is what this is all about.”

The lifted restriction, according to The New York Times, was originally put in place to “avoid World War III.” After UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Ukraine could use its weapons for strikes inside Russia, the Kremlin warned it could retaliate with strikes in kind on British military sites in Ukraine and “beyond.” French President Emanuel Macron has also said French weapons can be used to target Russian territory and urged his fellow NATO members to do the same. This comes as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has warned the world has never been closer to nuclear war.

For well over a year, Kiev has been launching scores of drone strikes inside Russian territory including Crimea with Western intelligence support. Neo-Nazi militias fighting on behalf of Kiev and linked to Ukrainian military intelligence have also carried out scores of attacks in Belgorod with NATO-supplied weaponry.

Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on the Conflicts of Interest podcast. His writing has been featured in media outlets such as, Counterpunch, and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also appeared on Liberty Weekly, Around the Empire, and Parallax Views. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96.