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Ukraine’s “hands tied” by US weapons restrictions to strike inside Russia

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul called on the Biden administration to allow Ukraine to use American weapons, such as HIMARS and ATACMS, to strike Russian military targets to achieve victory in the war.
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State
Antony Blinken, US Secretary of State Photo: Twitter/SecBlinken
Ukraine’s “hands tied” by US weapons restrictions to strike inside Russia

During the US House of Representatives hearings on 22 May, US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul explained to Secretary of State Antony Blinken why the US should allow Ukraine to strike targets inside Russia with American weapons.

The debate about the use of American arms for strikes on Russian territories is ongoing, with Blinken stating that the US does not encourage strikes on Russian territory, but Ukraine should decide for itself, while Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed that the White House would not permit Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons for such attacks. 

Michael McCaul said that Russians positioned their artillery and missiles just across the border with Ukraine to attack Ukrainians, according to the video by C-span.

“However, your administration and Jake Sullivan have restricted the arms use so that Ukraine cannot defend itself and fire back at Russia,” McCaul said.

McCaul expressed his support of the US sending military aid to Ukraine, including ATACMS missile systems and HIMARS artillery rocket systems, which can be used to strike Russian military targets. 

He stated that with this policy for not striking inside Russia, the Biden administration is “tying [Ukraine’s] hands behind their back,” applying a different approach in Israel, which uses US weapons for attacks on Palestine. 

Blinken avoided directly answering McCaul’s question, stating that the US rallied 50 countries to provide military assistance to Ukraine over the past two years. 

“When it comes to encouraging, endorsing attacks outside of Ukraine, we haven’t done that, but Ukraine will have to make and will make its own decisions. And I want to make sure that they get the equipment that they need,” he said. 

McCaul pointed out that in his conversations with Ukrainian officials, they expressed that victory cannot be achieved under these restrictions. He urged Blinken to communicate this to National Security Advisor Sullivan and to alter the policy, which he described as “very dangerous and damaging to the Ukrainian people.”

On 22 May, US House Speaker Mike Johnson expressed support for allowing Ukraine to use US-supplied weapons to strike targets within Russia. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said these restrictions exist only because Western allies fear nuclear escalation and wish to maintain trade and diplomatic relations with Russia.

Earlier, a delegation of five Ukrainian Members of Parliament visited Washington, meeting with representatives of the Biden administration and Congress to persuade the US to lift the ban on using systems like HIMARS or ATACMS for strikes on Russian territory. 

In April, the US approved the $61 billion aid package to Ukraine, which was stalled in the US Congress for six months, resulting in Ukraine gradually losing ground in Donetsk Oblast and Russian forces starting an offensive in Kharkiv Oblast. 


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