Biden allows Ukraine to hit Russia with US weapons to defend Kharkiv

US President Joe Biden secretly lifted restrictions on Ukraine using American-supplied weapons against targets on Russian territory, but only to defend the under-fire Kharkiv region, US officials said Thursday.

Biden had come under increasing pressure from a desperate Ukraine to ease his ban, but had so far resisted amid fears it could drag NATO into direct conflict or even a nuclear standoff with Moscow.

"The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use US-supplied weapons for counter-fire purposes in the Kharkiv region so Ukraine can hit back against Russian forces that are attacking them or preparing to attack them," a US official said.

"Our policy with respect to prohibiting the use of ATACMS or long range strikes inside of Russia has not changed," the official said on condition of anonymity, referring to long-range missiles recently sent by Washington to Kyiv.

A second US official confirmed Biden's change of policy, which comes as Russian forces push forward with an offensive against the northeastern Kharkiv region.

Ukraine asked for permission to use US arms on Russian territory on May 13, and Biden agreed in principle on May 15 after National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan made the case for Ukraine to be able to defend itself.


Read more on FRANCE 24 English

Read also:
US secretly sent Ukraine long-range ATACMS missiles
Biden signs Ukraine military aid bill into law, $1 billion arms shipment imminent
US and Ukraine have started work on security agreement, Zelensky says