Biden Administration Greenlights Limited Use of US Weapons Inside Russia

In a significant policy shift, the Biden administration has quietly granted Ukraine permission to strike targets inside Russia using U.S.-provided weapons, according to three U.S. officials and two other people familiar with the decision. The authorization, however, is limited to the Kharkiv region and comes with specific restrictions.

“The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use U.S. weapons for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them,” one of the U.S. officials said, emphasizing that the policy against long-range strikes deep inside Russia “has not changed.”

The decision comes in response to Ukraine’s request for increased flexibility in defending itself from Russian attacks on Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city. The policy change allows Ukraine to use American-provided weapons, such as rockets and rocket launchers, to intercept launched Russian missiles heading toward Kharkiv, target troops massing just across the Russian border near the city, or engage Russian bombers launching bombs toward Ukrainian territory.

However, the official clarified that Ukraine is still prohibited from using these weapons to hit civilian infrastructure or launch long-range missiles, like the Army Tactical Missile System, to strike military targets deep inside Russia.

The shift in policy represents a significant reversal for the Biden administration, which had previously expressed concerns that such actions could escalate the war by more directly involving the U.S. in the conflict. The deteriorating conditions for Ukraine on the battlefield, particularly Russia’s advances and improved position in Kharkiv, appear to have influenced the president’s decision.

While the National Security Council did not immediately respond to a request for comment, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted at the potential policy change on Wednesday, stating that U.S. policy toward Ukraine would evolve as needed. The decision also comes after top U.S. allies, such as the United Kingdom and France, expressed support for Ukraine’s right to attack inside Russia using Western weapons.