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US Officials Debate on Allowing Ukraine to Strike Russian Soil

On May 22, US House Speaker Mike Johnson suggested a potential change in the US policy regarding Ukraine’s use of American weapons. His comments, in response to a Voice of America question about current restrictions, suggested that the US might allow Ukraine greater freedom in prosecuting the war, including strikes on Russian territory.

“[Ukraine needs] to be able to fight back. And I think us trying to micromanage the effort there is not a good policy for us,” according to Johnson.

Senator Johnson commented on the issue, two days after a bipartisan congressional group urged the Pentagon to lift a restriction limiting Ukrainian defense capabilities

Additionally, after his visit to Kyiv on May 14, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is urging the Biden administration to lift restrictions on how Ukrainians can use American weapons.

Initiated by the State Department, Joe Biden’s administration is now actively debating whether to ease the ban, allowing Ukrainians to hit missile and artillery launchers located directly on the border with Russia, the targets that, according to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have made it possible for Russia to move forward and gain new territories in the Kharkiv region.

Officials say Secretary Blinken’s stance shifted due to the latest escalation on several fronts. Russia deployed weapons near Ukraine’s northeastern border, specifically targeting Kharkiv. This limits Ukraine’s response options, as they can’t use American-made drones or similar powerful weaponry.

US officials have persisted that they do not support Ukraine in strikes with American weapons on Russian soil, while Ukrainian officials are reportedly trying to convince the Biden administration to lift this ban.

While the Pentagon generally expects US weapons to stay within Ukraine, Defense Secretary Austin suggested there might be exceptions for aerial attacks. He mentioned a change dynamics of aerial combat at the press conference on May 20.

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