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Biden lets Ukraine strike inside Russia with U.S. weapons

WorldBiden lets Ukraine strike inside Russia with U.S. weapons

Biden’s U-turn has already been criticized by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as too little too late — and costing Ukrainian lives.

The president’s spokesman confirmed and welcomed the shift in American policy. “It will significantly boost our ability to counter Russian attempts to mass across the border,” Serhii Nykyforov told NBC News Friday.

But Zelenskyy himself was less welcoming, saying in an interview with The Guardian newspaper that Washington’s delay in approving the decision had cost lives. He called on the U.S. to allow the use of long-range weapons to strike deeper into Russia.

“I think it is absolutely illogical to have weapons and see the murderers, terrorists, who are killing us from the Russian side,” he told The Guardian. “I think sometimes they are just laughing at this situation,” he said of the Russian forces. “It’s like going hunting for them. Hunting for people. They understand that we can see them, but we cannot reach them.”

It’s that dynamic — Ukraine being able to see Russian forces across the border ready to attack, but not preemptively strike them — which shifted the thinking of Biden officials behind the scenes, a U.S. official told NBC News.

Three days after Russia’s Kharkiv assault on May 10, National security adviser Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. held a video call with Ukraine officials, who requested they be allowed to attack forces across the border in Russia, the U.S. official said.

Two days later, on May 15, Sullivan took the proposal to the president, making the case that it was common sense for Ukraine to be able to fend off Russian attacks by missiles, troops and bombers before they crossed the border, the official said.

After several more meetings, including with Blinken who had recently traveled to Kyiv, the move was signed off and went into effect as of Thursday, the official added.

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