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No change in US weapon restrictions for Ukraine after Russia’s attack on Kyiv hospital, Kirby says

US policy on Ukraine’s use of American weapons remains unchanged despite Russian attack on Kyiv hospital. NATO summit to focus on continued support for Ukraine, air defense, deterrence capabilities, and reaffirming Ukraine’s future in the alliance.
change us weapon restrictions ukraine after russia's attack kyiv hospital kirby says john white house press briefing 15 april 2024 screenshot youtube/whitehouse 15/04/2024
John Kirby at the White House Press Briefing on 15 April 2024. Screenshot: YouTube/WhiteHouse.
No change in US weapon restrictions for Ukraine after Russia’s attack on Kyiv hospital, Kirby says

At a July 8 briefing in Washington, White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby discussed the upcoming NATO summit, commemorating the alliance’s 75th anniversary, and reaffirmed the US policy that prohibits Ukraine from conducting deep strikes inside Russia with US-supplied weapons.

The NATO summit in Washington starts on 9 July, and it will bring together leaders from 38 countries, including all NATO allies and partners such as Ukraine, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

Kirby outlined the summit’s schedule, stating that on 11 July afternoon, there will be a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council. Following this, President Biden will host an event with President Zelenskyy and nearly two dozen allies and partners who have signed bilateral security agreements with Ukraine, similar to the one Biden signed in Italy recently.

Signals and messages

On 8 July, Russia launched a massive missile attack, targeting Kyiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, and other Ukrainian cities. The attack killed about 30 civilians and injured 130+. Among the Russian targets were two hospitals in Kyiv, the Okmatdyt National Children’s Hospital and the Isida Women’s Health and Maternity Center.

When questioned if the Russian strike on Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital Okhmatdyt was Russia’s message for the NATO summit, Kirby responded,

“It’s hard to draw a line to that. Sadly, this is par for the course for Mr. Putin to hit civilian infrastructure, and he doesn’t care whether he’s hitting hospitals or residential buildings,” he said, adding: “I can’t draw a line that this is some sort of message.”

Kirby emphasized that the NATO summit will send signals to Putin, stating,

“What you’re going to see over the course of the week is a very set of strong signals and messages to Mr. Putin that he can’t wait NATO out, can’t wait the United States out, that we’re going to continue to support Ukraine.”

The advisor previewed several key announcements expected during the summit:

  1. Air defense capabilities
  2. Deterrence capabilities, both for Ukraine and to boost the alliance
  3. Measures to shore up and invest in the defense industrial base, including in the United States
  4. Discussions on Ukraine’s path to NATO membership

Kirby reiterated President Biden’s long-standing position, saying,

“NATO is in Ukraine’s future.”

Still no permission for deep strikes inside Russia

When asked if the Russian attack on Kyiv’s children’s hospital would alter the US stance on permitting Ukraine to target Russian airfields deep within Russia, from which aircraft launch missile strikes against Ukraine, John Kirby responded:

“There’s been no change in our policy.”

He referenced President Biden’s guidance from several weeks ago, stating,

“The president… gave guidance to Ukraine that they can use US-supplied weapons to strike targets just over the border. That’s still the case.”

Biden’s reaction

On X/Twitter, US President Joe Biden commented on the Russian missile attack, calling it “a horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality.”

“It is critical that the world continues to stand with Ukraine at this important moment and that we not ignore Russian aggression,” the message reads.

Biden promised to reassure Zelenskyy of the US’ support for Ukraine:

“This week, I will be welcoming President Zelenskyy and NATO leaders to Washington D.C., and I will be meeting with President Zelenskyy to make clear our support for Ukraine is unshakeable,” he wrote.

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