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23 May, 2024 10:57

Blinken lobbying for strikes on Russia – NYT

The top US diplomat wants Ukraine to be given permission to use American weapons beyond its borders
Blinken lobbying for strikes on Russia – NYT

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is pushing the administration of President Joe Biden to allow Ukraine to attack targets deep inside Russia with American weapons, the New York Times reported on Thursday, referring to unnamed US officials.

The ban, according to the White House, was imposed out of concern that if US arms were used inside what Washington acknowledges as Russian territory it would trigger an escalation and potentially World War III. Blinken has been advocating for scrapping the restriction after making a “sobering” visit to Kiev earlier this month, the newspaper said, citing insider sources.

Ukrainian officials have claimed that being unable to target Russian forces across the border with American weapons led to the failure of its troops to prevent the recent Russian advances in Kharkov Region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the offensive is a response to months of Ukrainian artillery and drone attacks in Russia’s Belgorod Region and that a buffer zone is required to deprive Kiev of the capability to make such strikes. The Times said that Ukrainian weapons “don’t pack the power and speed of the American weapons.”

Kiev has launched a lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill to pressure the White House over the issue and has some allies among lawmakers. A group of representatives signed a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Monday calling for the Ukrainian request to be granted.

During a hearing in Congress on Tuesday, Senator Michael McCaul displayed a map showing the strike range of ATACMS missiles – a weapon the US has donated to Ukraine – if Kiev were allowed to use them inside Russia. He called the outlined territory a “sanctuary zone” for Russian troops and accused the Biden administration of tying the hands of the Ukrainians behind their backs.

Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky has urged increased NATO involvement in the conflict and has argued that the West should not fear Russia’s reaction. Moscow believes that Zelensky’s goal is to trigger an escalation to maintain his position.

Russia is currently conducting a military drill to test its capability to use non-strategic nuclear weapons, which Putin ordered in response to hostile rhetoric by Western officials. One such remark identified by Moscow came from British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who said earlier this month that Kiev “has the right” to use weapons donated by his nation to attack targets inside Russia.