The US is thinking about letting Ukraine use its weapons to strike Russia, even if it enrages Putin: report

  • US officials are considering letting Ukraine strike Russia with US weapons, The New York Times reports.

  • Ukraine says it's necessary to fight cross-border attacks.

  • But fears of crossing Russia's red lines have long made the US hesitate.

The US has barred Ukraine from striking targets in Russian territory with its arsenal of US weapons.

But that may be about to change. The New York Times on Thursday reported that US officials were debating rolling back the rule, which Ukraine has argued severely hampers its ability to defend itself.

The proposed U-turn came after Russia placed weapons across the border from northeastern Ukraine and directed them at Kharkiv, the Times reported, noting that Ukraine would be able to use only non-American drones to hit back.

The Times reported that the proposal was still being debated and had yet to be formally proposed to President Joe Biden.

Analysts say the policy shift could hand Ukraine a crucial advantage in fighting Russia's attacks, using US weapons to strike troop gatherings and Russian planes that carry "glide bombs."

Some of the US's allies, such as the UK, have already lifted the restriction on their weapons being used to hit targets inside Russia.

There are concerns, however, about how Russia may respond to the move. Reports say Biden believes Russia could hit back by launching an attack on the US or one of its allies, leading to a retaliatory spiral that could result in nuclear war.

It's a concern that has long played a central role in how much aid to give Ukraine.

Throughout the war, the US has incrementally increased its support for Ukraine, handing it more sophisticated weapons.

Ukraine has several times ignored US warnings about potentially escalating the conflict, such as by attacking the Crimea peninsula or launching long-range drone attacks deep inside Russia itself.

So far, Russia has yet to respond to these moves with a massive escalatory attack, and analysts recently told Business Insider that the Kremlin appeared keen to avoid a direct war with NATO allies.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin menaced the West with nuclear weapons over its support for Ukraine and announced new nuclear exercises near Ukraine's border this week.

Some warn that the West will know when it has crossed Russia's red lines only when it's too late.

Analysts writing for the Responsible Statecraft think tank last year said the response could take the form of an attack on US satellites to destroy civilian and military communications. The Times report says US officials believe Putin has red lines that'd trigger an escalation, but they don't know where they are or what the response would be.

In an interview with Reuters this week, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, criticized Western caution, saying its support typically came about a year too late.

"But it is what it is: one big step forward, but before that, two steps back. So we need to change the paradigm a little bit," Zelenskyy said. "We are negotiating with partners so that we can use their weapons against buildups of Russian equipment on the border and even [on] their territory," he said. "So far, there is nothing positive."

Read the original article on Business Insider