Joe Biden allows Ukraine to use US weapons in strikes on Russia - reports

Joe Biden allows Ukraine to use US weapons in strikes on Russia - reports

Joe Biden has given Ukraine the go-ahead to use American weapons to strike inside Russia, according to reports.

The US president has green-lit the strikes only for the limited purpose of defending the city of Kharkiv, US media reported on Thursday night, citing US officials.

The decision amounts to a policy shift by Mr Biden, who until now steadfastly refused to let Ukraine use American weaponry for strikes inside Russia.

"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," said one US official reportedly.

According to the Associated Press, officials underlined that US policy calling on Ukraine not to use American-provided long-range missiles and other munitions to strike inside Russia offensively has not changed.

Mr Biden's decision was first reported by Politico.

The move comes as Ukrainian officials have stepped up calls on the US administration to allow its forces to defend itself against attacks originating from Russian territory.

Ukrainian officials, most notably Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, have been increasingly vocal in arguing that the restriction was putting Ukrainian forces in an untenable situation as Russia intensified attacks around the northeast Kharkiv region.

The advances came with Russia exploiting a lengthy delay in replenishment of US military aid and as Western Europe's inadequate military production has slowed crucial deliveries to the battlefield for Ukraine.

During Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Kyiv two weeks ago, Zelensky made his case for using American weapons to strike back at positions in Russia that were launching attacks into north and northeast Ukraine, according to three US officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations.

Blinken was convinced and took that message back to Washington, but it was ultimately Mr Biden's decision to make, the officials said.

Since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, Mr Biden has been steadfast in his opposition to Ukraine's offensive use of American-made weaponry, concerned that the action could be seen as provocative and lead to Moscow widening the war.

Although US officials insist there is no formal ban, they have long made clear that they believe the use of American weapons to attack targets inside Russia could provoke an escalatory response from Moscow, something that Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised.