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Ukraine Granted Expanded Use of U.S. Weapons Against Russian Forces

Washington, D.C., June 20, 2024 – Ukraine is now authorized to use U.S.-supplied weapons to target Russian forces firing on Ukrainian troops from anywhere across the border, not just near Ukraine's Kharkiv region, the Pentagon announced on Thursday.

This expanded authorization follows a quiet decision by President Joe Biden last month, allowing Kyiv to launch U.S.-supplied weapons at military targets inside Russia. Initially, Biden's directive was perceived to permit strikes only on targets within Russia close to the border near Kharkiv. However, Pentagon spokesperson Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder clarified that Ukraine's use of these weapons is not restricted to that area.

"The ability to fire back when fired upon is really what this policy is focused on," Ryder told reporters. "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 fundamental. It's self-defense, and it makes sense for them to be able to do that."

Ryder's comments align with statements made earlier this week by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Speaking to PBS, Sullivan emphasized the practical nature of the policy. "This is not about geography. It's about common sense," Sullivan said. "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."

Sullivan also noted that Ukraine could use air-defense systems to target Russian planes flying in Russian airspace if they are preparing to strike Ukrainian territory.

The conflict in Ukraine has seen little change in front lines since late 2022, despite significant casualties on both sides in the ongoing trench warfare. The fighting has been the bloodiest in Europe since World War II. After early successes where Ukrainian forces repelled an assault on Kyiv and recaptured territory, a major counter-offensive using Western-supplied tanks last year failed to make significant gains

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