US Says Ukraine Can Strike ‘Anywhere’ Inside Russia Where Cross-Border Attacks Emanate

‘Ukraine can and does have the right to fire back to defend themselves,’ says Pentagon spokesman.

Ukrainian forces have the Biden administration’s consent to use U.S.-donated weapons to strike anywhere inside Russia’s borders that Russian troops are using as a launch point for attacks on Ukrainian territory.

Pentagon press secretary and U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder confirmed at a press briefing on June 20 that the policy permitting Ukrainian strikes inside Russia with U.S.-donated weapons is not confined to the Kharkiv area alone but instead encompasses a general “counter-fire” permission. His comments provide more specificity to an evolving position within the Biden administration.

President Joe Biden and other Western backers of Ukraine, throughout the past two years, have been wary of the risks that their support could further inflame the conflict. Only recently has the Biden administration given Ukrainian forces the sign-off to use the donated weapons they’ve received to strike across the border.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on May 31 that Ukrainian forces could strike at “Russian forces that are massing on the Russian side of the border and then attacking into Ukraine.”
Since then, more details have begun to emerge about the exact limits of this policy. President Biden said in a June 6 interview with ABC News the following week that he hasn’t given Ukraine permission to use longer-range weapons like those that could hit the Russian capital in Moscow.

Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy began asking President Biden and other Western supporters for sign-off to strike targets inside Russia’s borders that have been firing into Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region.

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It’s in the context of this heightened Russian offensive in Kharkiv, as well as the Biden administration’s past efforts to avoid escalating the ongoing conflict, that PBS News reporters asked National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to state explicitly whether the permission to strike inside Russia applied only to the areas adjacent to Kharkiv, or more broadly throughout the border region.

“It extends to anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory,” Mr. Sullivan replied during the June 17 interview.

Mr. Sullivan noted that a similar pattern of Russian cross-border launches has manifested against another northeastern Ukrainian region, Sumy.

“We have seen initial indications that Russia has made exploratory moves across Sumy. And so it would apply there as well,” Mr. Sullivan said.

“This is not about geography. It’s about common sense.”

Maj. Gen. Ryder bolstered Mr. Sullivan’s position on Thursday, saying Ukrainian forces have a general right to return fire on areas of Russia where attacks on Ukraine originate.

“What you see is Russian forces attempting to use their border as a safe zone from which to conduct preparatory fires and attacks into Ukraine in support of offensive actions,” the Pentagon spokesman said.

“As we see those forces conducting those types of operations from across the border, we’ve explained, you know, Ukraine can and does have the right to fire back to defend themselves.”

The Pentagon spokesman said the U.S. policy opposing longer-ranged Ukrainian strikes inside Russia has not changed.

In addition to seeking permission to strike inside Russia to blunt these cross-border attacks, Mr. Zelenskyy has also asked for more air defense systems to intercept these Russian attacks once they’re airborne over Ukraine.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced on Thursday that the United States will prioritize Ukraine first when delivering new batches of air defense missiles, pushing orders from other countries further back in the waiting list.

Mr. Kirby said the goal of this reprioritization is to fill out Ukraine’s air defense capabilities over the next 16 months, to help “at a key moment in the war,” after which deliveries of these weapons to other foreign buyers may resume.

“The broader message here to Russia is clear. If you think you’re going to be able to outlast Ukraine, and if you think you’re going to be able to outlast those of us who are supporting Ukraine, you’re just flat-out wrong,” Mr. Kirby said. “We’re going to make sure that we give Ukraine the critical air defense capabilities they need now and into the future.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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