The US is still applying a range limitation to the use of its weapons by Ukrainian Armed Forces, according to a Washington Post report citing two anonymous Ukrainian officials. Given the restrictions, Russia would continue to benefit from a safe space created for the aircraft bombing Ukraine.

According to the Washington Post’s sources, the US has imposed a 100-kilometer (62-mile) cross border limit on the use of its weapons. Asked to comment on the claims, US officials suggested that was inaccurate, without indicating whether they have imposed distance-based limitations on Kyiv’s freedom to attack targets in Russia.

On May 30 President Joe Biden approved the use of US weapons to hit Russian forces that were threatening Kharkiv. Although this seemed to trigger other Western capitals to give Kyiv the go ahead to hit targets in Russia, statements coming out of both the Whitehouse and the Pentagon, ever since then, are opaque at best and often contradict each other.


On June 17, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told PBS that Ukraine could use American weapons to fire at Russian military installations not only near the border with Kharkiv, but also in any border regions where there is a direct threat. He said: “This is not about geography. It’s about common sense. If Russia attacks or plans to attack Ukraine from its territory, it makes sense to allow Ukraine to retaliate against forces that attack it from abroad.”

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US officials confirmed this to Politico on June 20 but categorized it as “clarification,” not a substantive change of US policy. There was still, however, no clear definition of what “border region” means but the same officials reiterated the US policy prohibiting Ukraine from launching long-range strikes inside Russian territory.

In response to this latest “revelation” on US limits, Pentagon spokesman Major Charlie Dietz said: “The US has agreed to allow Ukraine to fire US-provided weapons into Russia across where Russian forces are coming to attempt to take Ukrainian territory. It’s not about geography or a certain radius. If Russia attacks or is about to attack Ukraine from its territory, Ukraine has the right to retaliate from its territory.”


He added that Ukraine was also allowed to use US-supplied air defense systems to strike Russian aircraft if they “intend to open fire into Ukrainian airspace.”

The relaxation of the previous prohibition on cross border fire allows counter-battery fire or attacks on Moscow’s ground troops forming up for an assault as most Western supplied artillery outranges those held by Russia. The current major threat faced by Ukraine’s military and civilian locations in its own border regions are from aerial delivered guided bombs – “glide bombs.” These are launched from around a 60 -70-kilometer (40 plus miles) stand-off range, allowing them to operate totally from within Russian air space and deploy from airfields well beyond any 100-kilometer restriction.

If there is a range-dependent limitation, such as the Washington Post article suggests, it does in effect confirm to Russia that it can still launch attacks from a “safe space.” If the US could categorically come out and say that there is no such prohibition, then it would considerably complicate Russia’s strategic plans as they would be exposed to long-range threats from HIMARS (480 kilometers /300 miles) or ATACMS (190 kilometers / 300 miles).


This would force them to move their aircraft, command posts and logistic storage further back from the border. Bombers launching glide bombs would be in the air longer, becoming exposed to long range air defense weapons and its resupply lines open to further interdiction. It may only be a matter of time before the US wakes up to the obvious logic of the situation.

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