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Blinken Hints U.S. May Allow Ukraine Greater Latitude to Strike in Russia

WorldBlinken Hints U.S. May Allow Ukraine Greater Latitude to Strike in Russia

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken left open the possibility on Friday that President Biden could allow Ukraine to use U.S.-made weapons to strike at a broader array of targets inside Russia, going beyond attacks he has approved on launch sites the Russians are using for their current assault on the Kharkiv area.

“Going forward, we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is: As necessary, adapt and adjust,” Mr. Blinken said at a news conference in Prague at the end of a two-day meeting of top diplomats from member nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Mr. Blinken was responding to a reporter’s question on whether the United States might give permission for Ukraine to use U.S.-made weapons to strike deeper into Russia. The phrase “adapt and adjust” is one that Mr. Blinken used in a news conference on Wednesday in Chisinau, Moldova, to suggest that Mr. Biden was about to make a major policy shift and grant Ukraine permission to use the weapons to strike in Russia, as Ukrainian and European leaders had been urging for weeks.

American officials then said on Thursday that Mr. Biden had made that decision in recent days and told the Ukrainians, but that the permission to strike in Russia was limited to sites the Russians were using for the assault on Kharkiv. U.S. officials said the ban on Ukraine’s using weapons for “long range” attacks in Russia had not changed.

But Mr. Blinken’s remarks on Friday suggested the ban could change, depending on shifts in battlefield conditions and the direction of the war. He did say, though, that the United States was “proceeding deliberately as well as effectively.” That included ensuring Ukrainian soldiers had the necessary training to use new weapons systems and the capacity to maintain them, he said.

American officials say the policy shift means Ukrainian attacks with U.S. weapons in Russia can be pre-emptive but can take place only within Russian areas near Kharkiv that the Pentagon has designated and that U.S. military officials have communicated to their Ukrainian counterparts.

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