US Allows Ukraine to Strike Russian Forces Near Kharkiv With American Weapons

President Joe Biden has authorized Ukraine to use U.S.-supplied weapons to strike Russian forces attacking or preparing to attack the Kharkiv region, according to a U.S. official. The decision marks a significant shift in the long-standing U.S. policy that prevented Ukraine from using American firepower to hit targets inside Russian territory.

“The President recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use US-supplied weapons for counter-fire purposes in the Kharkiv region so Ukraine can hit back against Russian forces that are attacking them or preparing to attack them,” the U.S. official said Thursday.

However, the official clarified that Ukraine is still not permitted to use long-range U.S. weapons, such as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), to strike military targets deep inside Russia. “Our policy with respect to prohibiting the use of ATACMS or long-range strikes inside of Russia has not changed,” the official added.

The policy change comes as Russian troops have made advances on Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which sits just 30 miles south of Russia’s border. In recent weeks, the Kremlin has claimed to have captured villages around Kharkiv as part of a broad offensive that would bring the city within artillery range.

The Biden administration had previously restricted Ukraine’s use of U.S. weapons inside Russia due to concerns that it could lead to an escalation in the war. However, the formal decision to change the policy came in the “last few days,” according to a U.S. official, following Ukraine’s request after Russia’s offensive on Kharkiv began on May 10.

Since the offensive started, the U.S. has announced approximately $675 million in military aid for Ukraine, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), ammunition, Howitzer artillery rounds, High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs), and other essential offensive and defensive equipment.