Monday, June 17, 2024

Ukraine claims struck Russian territory with US weapons for first time

Ukraine has struck inside of Russia with US weapons for the first time since permission was granted by the administration of US President Joe Biden last week, according to a Ukrainian official.

Ukrainian parliament member Yehor Cherniev confirmed that US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) have hit Russian logistics and artillery locations inside of Russia near Ukraine’s northeast region of Kharkiv, where Moscow is conducting an offensive.

“We have already achieved some success and forced the Russians to stop shelling the city,” said Cherniev, the deputy chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence in Ukraine’s parliament, in a text message.

“Also, thanks to the HIMARS strikes, we managed to reduce the offensive potential of Russian troops in this area.”

Unconfirmed videos shared on Russian Telegram sites appeared to show the aftermath of a HIMARS strike that caused an explosion in the Belgorod region of Russia, which borders Kharkiv.

The Biden administration last week announced a change in policy to allow Ukraine to strike inside of Russia from the region of Kharkiv.

The reversal was only partial, allowing for strikes in Russia from Kharkiv, where Russian forces are pressing forward in a major offensive. Ukraine is also prohibited from using the US-made Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) or long-range artillery to hit Russia, and from hitting civilian infrastructure.

Cherniev added Russia is still bombing Ukraine with guided bombs and pressed for more “air defense systems and permission from the United States to fire ATACMS missiles at Russian military airfields”.

Cherniev and other Ukrainian lawmakers had pressed Washington to reverse the policy after Russia launched the Kharkiv offensive in May. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other government officials in Kyiv also pushed the Biden administration on the issue, which Washington had in place to avoid escalation with Russia as Moscow continues to rattle the nuclear saber.

Ukraine has struck into Russia repeatedly during the more than two-year war, but until now has used its own weapons, including cheap drones that have targeted oil refineries.

The US weapons, however, will give Kyiv the ability to blunt Russian attacks from Belgorod and deal much more damage to military infrastructure.

Asked Tuesday if Ukraine using US weapons inside of Russia has helped to beat back Russia’s advance, Jake Sullivan, the White House national security advisor, said it was a “dynamic situation”.

But Sullivan added Ukraine was in a “deep hole” after a months-long delay of US military aid to the embattled country, and the arrival of more weapons was allowing Kyiv to “firm up the lines”.

“We certainly have seen the fact that weapons arriving on the battlefield, at scale at quantity in the last few weeks have made a difference, have made an impact,” he told reporters.

“And we hope they will continue to do so and that ultimately it will allow Ukraine not just to hold the line but to push back against Russian forces.”

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