Biden says Ukraine can strike Russia with U.S. arms to defend Kharkiv: reports

U.S. 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 three U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, underscored that the U.S. policy calling on Ukraine not to use American-provided ATACMS or long-range missiles and other munitions to strike offensively inside Russia has not changed.

Biden’s directive allows for U.S.-supplied weapons to be used for “counterfire purposes in the Kharkiv region so Ukraine can hit back against Russian forces that are attacking them or preparing to attack them,” one official said.

The move comes as Ukrainian officials have stepped up calls on the U.S. administration to allow its forces to defend itself against attacks originating from Russian territory. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the Russian border.

Biden’s decision was first reported by Politico. Reuters, the Washington Post and other U.S. media outlets also cited Biden administration officials to confirm the move.

Ukrainian officials, most notably Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have been increasingly vocal in arguing that the restriction was putting Ukrainian forces in an untenable situation as Russia intensified attacks around the northeast Kharkiv region.

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