World

Biden ‘partially lifts ban on Ukraine using US arms for strikes inside Russia’

Officials say policy calling on Ukraine not to use US-provided long-range missiles and other munitions to strike inside Russia offensively remains.

President Joe Biden (Alex Brandon/AP)
President Joe Biden (Alex Brandon/AP) (Alex Brandon/AP)

President Joe Biden has given Ukraine the go-ahead to use American weaponry to strike inside Russia for the limited purpose of defending Kharkiv, according to two US officials.

The officials underscored that the US policy calling on Ukraine not to use American-provided long-range missiles and other munitions to strike inside Russia offensively has not changed.

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.

The city centre is covered with debris after a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine (Andrii Marienko/AP)
The city centre is covered with debris after a Russian missile attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine (Andrii Marienko/AP) (Andrii Marienko/AP)

Mr Biden’s decision was first reported by Politico.

Ukrainian officials, most notably Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, have been increasingly vocal in making the case that the restriction was putting Ukrainian forces in an untenable situation as Russia has intensified attacks around the north-east 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.

But since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022, Mr Biden has been steadfast in his opposition to the Ukrainians using American-made weaponry offensively out of concern that the action could be seen as provocative and lead to Moscow widening the war.

The decision comes as US secretary of state Antony Blinken on Thursday assailed Russian attempts to sow discord in democracies with misinformation after hinting the Biden administration may soon allow Ukraine to use American-supplied munitions to strike inside Russia.

With an increasing number of officials saying Ukraine must be able to defend itself by attacking targets in Russian territory, Mr Blinken joined Nato foreign ministers for a meeting in Prague, where he said Moscow’s use of misinformation and disinformation was a “poison” and signed an agreement with the Czech government to combat it.

He also toured a Czech military base, where he saw armoured vehicles that Prague is sending to Kyiv to help fight Russia’s invasion and received a briefing on a Czech initiative to supply Ukraine with a million rounds of ammunition by the end of the year.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Czech defence minister Jana Cernochova at a Czech Defence Capabilities Event at Prague-Kbely Airport in Prague (Petr David Josek, Pool/AP)
US secretary of state Antony Blinken and Czech defence minister Jana Cernochova at a Czech Defence Capabilities Event at Prague-Kbely Airport in Prague (Petr David Josek, Pool/AP) (Petr David Josek/AP)

“We know that a major front in the competition that we have, the adversarial relationship that we have, notably with Russia, is on the information front,” Mr Blinken said.

He said the agreement with the Czechs – the 17th such accord the US has signed with partner nations – would help “to effectively deal with misinformation and disinformation, which is a poison being injected into our democracies by our adversaries”.

“The more we’re able to do together both between our countries but also with other countries, the more effective we’re going to be exposing it and dealing with it,” Mr Blinken told reporters at a signing ceremony with Czech foreign minister Jan Lipavsky.

Mr Lipavsky agreed, noting that Czech authorities had recently exposed a major Russian-backed misinformation campaign.

“We are facing confrontation between democracies and autocracies,” he said.

“The Kremlin has started targeting targeting democracies all around the world with cyber warfare, propaganda and influence operations and this danger simply cannot be underestimated any more.”