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As U.S. Shifts Policy on Striking Into Russia, Kharkiv Is Hit Again

WorldAs U.S. Shifts Policy on Striking Into Russia, Kharkiv Is Hit Again

Debris covered a street and firefighters rushed to rescue people from an apartment block hit by a Russian missile early Friday in the northeastern city of Kharkiv. A fire broke out, and a few minutes after the first missile hit, another struck the same location in a tactic known as a double tap that is intended to target emergency responders.

It was just the type of attack Ukraine has cited as it appealed to allies to allow it to do more to defend itself against Russian bombardment. That consent finally came in a major way on Thursday when the U.S. amended its policy, saying Ukraine could defend itself by hitting military targets in Russia with American-provided weaponry.

The shift is narrow in scope, granting Ukraine permission to use American air defense systems, guided rockets and artillery to fire into Russia only along Ukraine’s northeastern border, near Kharkiv. Fighting has been raging in the area for the past three weeks after Russian troops poured over the border to open a new front in the war.

But hitting targets with American weapons inside Russia had been a red line drawn by the Biden administration because of worries about escalation before the cross-border fighting began near Kharkiv. Russia has been launching missiles and gathering forces in the safety of its own territory, out of range of Ukraine’s Soviet-era weaponry.

The assaults have prompted urgent appeals from Ukraine for the Biden administration to remove the shackles, framing the use of Western weapons as a purely defensive tactic. Indeed, in granting permission, U.S. officials said the weapons should only be used in self-defense in the border region.

Still, it was a significant reversal that Ukraine hopes will help it regain its footing in a war that Russia is now dominating, and was a historic moment for the U.S. as well: It appeared to be the first time an American president had allowed the limited use of American weapons to strike inside the borders of a nuclear-armed adversary.

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