During hearings in the International Relations Committee in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, July 2, speakers from both sides called on the White House to finally remove the limitations it has imposed on the use of the long-range weapons it has provided.

In May, the Biden administration announced it would now let Ukrainian forces fire its weapons into Russia, but limited their use to positions adjacent to the Kharkiv region.

Firing into Russia had been a red line for Washington ever since the start of the full-scale invasion for fear it would be used by the Kremlin as an excuse to escalate its war.

The catalyst for the change of heart was a Russian glide bomb attack on the Epicenter shopping complex in Kharkiv that killed at least 19 people, including two children.

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While the US authorities patted themselves on the back for their largesse, President Volodymyr Zelensky said during a press conference a few days later, “Is that sufficient? No.”

This was yet another example of step-by-step backtracking on an initial refusal by Washington to deliver certain weapons, then once provided, limiting their use, leaving Kyiv dissatisfied and confused, but giving them an expectation that if they kept pushing Biden and co. would eventually relent.

Well-respected analysts, such as George Barros from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said that a total “gloves off” approach to cross-border strikes “…  could really change the war.”

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Kamala Harris should seek the presidency and include the Republicans’ “Proposed Plan for Victory in Ukraine” as part of her platform.

It is no surprise that with that background Kyiv and many of its Western allies, including the UK, Sweden, Poland, the Baltic nations, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, have been pushing the US administration to remove the existing controls and authorizing Ukraine to use the weapons they have supplied to strike at Russian territory.

In Tuesday’s hearing, it was evident that there was also growing bi-partisan support among US legislators to allow Kyiv to be free to fight the war it says it needs to fight.

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Republican Congressman Joe Wilson said: “… Putin and his forces have calculated the exact distance to strike Ukraine from Russian territory – so that Ukraine cannot retaliate.”

Wilson emphasized that the call to lift all the bans placed on US weapons was supported by both Republicans and Democrats and that Russia’s threats regarding escalation “turn out to be empty again and again.”

The Voice of America website cites Gregory Meeks, the senior Democrat member of the International Relations Committee, saying that he also supports the lifting of restrictions on Ukraine’s armed forces:

“… it makes sense, if you see that Russia is firing from a certain area near the border, then Ukraine should be able to shoot there. If it's from any other point, then Ukraine should be able to get to it as well.”

Another Republican congressman speaking at the hearing, Thomas Kean, said that “the administration [only] resorted to half-measures” in its current change in policy towards Ukraine’s need to strike targets on Russian territory.

Kean asked for an explanation as to why the White House had provided Ukraine with ATACMS, which have a range of 300 kilometers [190 miles] but had limited the use of US weapons to within 100 kilometers [60 miles] of the border. He then asked, “How many Russian airbases are in the range of ATACMS?”

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Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs James O'Brien responded by saying: “If Russia tries to expand the current front, Ukraine will be allowed to fire at a greater distance.”

He then added that even with the current limitations “… we are seeing a dramatic change in Russia's ability to sustain its campaign against Ukraine due to the loss of targets in the zone where fire is [currently] allowed.”

This echoed comments US National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, had said a week earlier.

At the beginning of June, Republican congressman Mike Turner, head of the intelligence committee of the House of Representatives wrote formally to the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin calling for the removal of all restrictions on Ukraine’s use of ATACMS missiles and other long-range American weapons.

If Biden’s track record is anything to go by, it will be only a matter of time before the White House responds positively to the pressure it is receiving from all directions, but it is to be hoped that it will be sooner rather than later.

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