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30 May, 2024 09:33

Biden could lift restrictions on Ukraine’s use of US weapons within weeks – NYT

Munitions sent to Kiev “will just start landing” on targets deep inside Russia without warning, the newspaper has predicted
Biden could lift restrictions on Ukraine’s use of US weapons within weeks – NYT

The White House has begun a formal assessment on whether Kiev should be allowed to use US-donated weapons to strike targets deep inside Russia, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Kiev has complained that its military is being undermined by a US ban on the use of weapons outside the territory over which it claims sovereignty. There is increasing pressure from senior Western officials to lift these restrictions as Ukrainian forces are losing ground to their Russian opponents.

Anonymous White House insiders told the Times that “a very brisk process” was underway to produce recommendations for President Joe Biden on the issue. The current restrictions were designed to prevent further escalation of hostilities and the prospect of a direct conflict between NATO and Russia.

According to the report, the policy could be changed in the next two weeks, before Biden is scheduled to hold a series of face-to-face meetings with key allies. The sources say no formal announcement would be made if he does reverse course. Instead, “American artillery shells and missiles will just start landing on Russian military targets.”

A similar report published by Politico on Wednesday claimed that a policy shift was “under consideration” but was not necessarily guaranteed.

The debate inside the Biden administration was apparently signaled by senior US officials. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is reportedly lobbying his colleagues on Kiev’s behalf, has said the US government has “adapted and adjusted” to changing conditions in the Ukraine conflict, adding that “we’ll continue to do that.” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby has remarked that America’s “support to Ukraine has evolved appropriately.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned of “serious consequences” in the event of strikes deep inside Russian territory using long-range US weapons.

“If those serious consequences happen in Europe, how will the US act, considering our parity in strategic arms?” he said on Tuesday. “It’s hard to say. Do they want a global conflict?”

The Times has predicted that, if Biden yields to pressure, he would likely keep some restrictions in place, limiting the use of American arms “to military targets, just inside Russia’s borders, that are involved in attacks on Ukraine.”