Secretary Antony Blinken advocating for Ukraine to be allowed to use American weapons to strike inside Russia

US' Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks as he greets embassy staff at the US embassy in Kyiv on January 19, 2022 as part of a two-day visit in Ukraine. (Photo by AFP)

After a “sobering” visit to Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has urged President Joe Biden to allow Ukraine to use American weapons against targets inside Russia, The New York Times reported on May 22.

The debate is heating up at the White House, driven by the State Department’s push to permit strikes on missile and artillery installations along the Russia-Ukraine border.

The proposal is still in the early discussion phase, and it remains unclear how many of Biden’s advisors support this move. It has not yet been formally presented to the president.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller declined to comment on the ongoing internal discussions. However, officials involved in the deliberations indicated that Blinken’s stance shifted following Russia’s deployment of weapons near northeastern Ukraine, targeting Kharkiv and limiting Ukraine’s response capabilities to non-U.S. drones and other equipment.

There’s also a shift in training strategy under consideration, with plans to potentially train Ukrainian forces in the U.S. rather than in Germany. This would involve deploying American troops to Ukraine, a move President Biden has previously opposed.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin hinted at possible exceptions for engaging Russian aircraft within Russian airspace, although details remain vague. “The air dynamics are a little bit different… But I don’t want to speculate on any type of involvement here on the podium,” he stated.

This internal debate is no secret to Russia, which continues to exploit American concerns about escalating the conflict.

In a notable break from the administration’s public stance, Victoria Nuland, former third in command at the State Department, advocated for lifting the restrictions on hitting targets in Russia. “If the attacks are happening right next to the border, then hitting those bases should be fair game,” she argued, emphasizing the need for a response to Russia’s intensified aggression.

Despite these discussions, President Biden and his team remain cautious, concerned about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s potential use of nuclear weapons. The administration believes there is an undefined threshold that could provoke a severe response from Putin, though the specifics are unknown.

Just a day earlier, Blinken maintained that the U.S. does not support attacks on Russian territory using American weapons, but acknowledged that Ukraine must make its own strategic decisions.

Le Monde’s analysis of Blinken’s statements in Kyiv suggested that Ukraine might have received tacit approval from the U.S. to use American weapons on Russian targets. This comes as British Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced a $3.74 billion annual military aid package to Ukraine on May 3, with no restrictions on using British weapons against Russia, signaling a potential shift in Western policy towards more direct engagement.

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