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US Defense Secretary Austin reaffirms restrictions on Ukraine’s use of American weapons in Russia

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated the White House’s unwillingness to approve Ukraine’s use of US-provided weapons in strikes against military targets in Russia.
us defense secretary austin reaffirms restrictions ukraine's use american weapons russia lloyd briefing wahington after online meeting ukraine defene contact group 20 may 2024 xostapyarysh austin-defense-secretary-us
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at a briefing in Wahington after the online meeting of the Ukraine Defene Contact Group on 20 May 2024. Photo: X/@OstapYarysh
US Defense Secretary Austin reaffirms restrictions on Ukraine’s use of American weapons in Russia

Following the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting on 20 May, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reiterated that the White House will not approve Ukraine’s use of US-provided weapons for strikes against military targets in Russia, ISW reported.

Austin stated that the US expects that Ukraine will “continue to use the weapons that [the US] provided on targets inside of Ukraine.”

The US defense secretary noted that “the aerial dynamic is a little bit different,” possibly hinting on the future F-16 usage, but said he would not speculate further.

A day earlier, former Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland stated that Russian border positions are legitimate targets and urged the US to provide more support for Ukrainians to strike bases on Russian territory.

ISW says it continues to “assess that US and other Western limitations on Ukraine’s ability to strike military targets in Russia have created a sanctuary in Russia’s border areas from which Russian aircraft can conduct glide bomb and missile strikes against Ukrainian positions and settlements and where Russian forces and equipment can freely assemble before entering combat.”

According to ISW, these US and Western policies are severely limiting Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russian offensives in northern Kharkiv Oblast and along the international border, where future Russian operations may occur.

The ISW noted that UK Foreign Minister David Cameron recently announced that Ukrainian forces can use UK-provided weapons to strike targets in Russia, and other European countries may lift similar restrictions.

French National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee Chairperson Jean-Louis Bourlanges stated on 19 May that France should allow Ukrainian forces to use French-provided weapons to strike military targets inside Russia. He noted that “the right to self-defense excludes the right to protect the territory of the aggressor” and emphasized that lifting the restriction is not about Western intervention but about removing an “unjustifiable taboo.”

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