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Ukraine uses US weapons to strike inside Russia, western official says

The weapons were used under recently approved guidance from US President Joe Biden.

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

Ukraine has used US weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a western official.

The weapons were used under recently approved guidance from US President Joe Biden, allowing American arms to be used to strike inside Russia for the limited purpose of defending Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mr Biden’s directive allows for US-supplied weapons to be used to strike Russian forces that are attacking or preparing to attack.

Burnt books in a damaged workshop of Ukraine’s largest printing house after a Russian missile attack that killed seven civilians in Kharkiv (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP)
Burnt books in a damaged workshop of Ukraine’s largest printing house after a Russian missile attack that killed seven civilians in Kharkiv (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP) (AP)

It does not change US policy that directs Ukraine not to use American-provided ATACMS or long-range missiles and other munitions to strike offensively inside Russia, US officials have said.

Ukrainian officials had stepped up calls on the US to allow Kyiv’s forces to defend themselves against attacks originating from Russian territory.

Kharkiv is just 12 miles from the Russian border and has come under intensified Russian attack.

In advancing in the northeast Kharkiv region, Russian forces have exploited a lengthy delay in the replenishment of US military aid.

In addition, western Europe’s inadequate military production has slowed crucial deliveries to the battlefield for Ukraine.

On Tuesday, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that he could not confirm that Ukraine had used US weapons at targets in Russia.

“We’re just not in a position on a day-to-day basis of knowing exactly what the Ukrainians are firing at what,” Mr Kirby said. “It’s certainly at a tactical level.”

According to a June 3 report from the Institute for the Study of War, Ukrainian forces struck a Russian S-300/400 air defence battery in Belgorod Oblast, likely with the high mobility artillery rocket system, or HIMARS, on June 1 or June 2.

The air defence system was located roughly about 40 miles from the current front line in northern Kharkiv Oblast and more than 50 miles from the city of Kharkiv, which is within the range of HIMARS, the institute reported.

Confirmation of the strikes comes as Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, visited Qatar, which with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has been a key mediator in prisoner swaps and other negotiations between Russia and Ukraine since the war began.