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Biden allows limited Ukrainian strikes inside Russia using U.S.-provided weapons

Ukraine can use U.S. weapons in Russia, Biden says
Biden allows Ukraine to use U.S.-provided weapons for limited strikes in Russia 00:27

President Biden partially lifted a ban Thursday on Ukraine using U.S.-provided weapons for strikes inside Russia, three U.S. officials tell CBS News.

Ukraine may use the weapons on the Russian side of the border near the besieged Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, against concentrations of Russian troops and Russian artillery pieces, one U.S. official said. Asked whether that includes Russian airplanes this official said, "We've never told them they can't shoot down a Russian airplane over Russian soil that's coming to attack them."

The Ukrainians asked the U.S. for permission to strike Russia with U.S.-provided weapons earlier this month, on May 13. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General C.Q. Brown told reporters of the Ukrainian request shortly after it was made. Among Biden advisers, the decision to sign off on this was unanimous, according to a senior U.S. official, but Mr. Biden did not give his official approval until Thursday, even though the U.K., France and Germany had publicly given the green light for their own weapons to be used in this way. 

The Biden administration narrowly tailored the U.S. permission to the Belgorod region of the Russian Federation and restricted the use of the weapons to hitting artillery sites and other weaponry aimed at them around Kharkiv. The Ukrainians are still not permitted to use U.S.-provided long-range equipment such as the ATACMs to hit Russia beyond that point, in order to avoid the perception of a direct U.S. escalation with Russia. 

It was not immediately known whether any U.S. weapons have been used under the new guidelines so far. "That's up to [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy to decide and announce," another U.S. official said.

Speaking during a visit to Moldova on Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken previewed the shift in the U.S. stance, saying, "At every step along the way, we've adapted and adjusted as necessary. And so that's exactly what we'll do going forward."

"The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use U.S.-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," a U.S. official said. "Our policy with respect to prohibiting the use of ATACMS — or long range strikes inside of Russia — has not changed." 

A U.S. official confirmed that the U.S. and Ukraine are close to concluding a 10-year bilateral security agreement that would guarantee that the U.S. will build up Ukraine's defense industrial base to provide artillery, ammunition, air defense systems and other weapons. The U.S. would also coordinate with Ukraine on how to push back Russia if it is attacked. The Financial Times was first to report this development. The deal was originally promised by President Biden at last year's G7 summit of world leaders and is expected to be consummated at the upcoming June summit in Puglia, Italy.

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