Daily Review: Why the U.S. Allowed Ukraine to Strike Inside Russia

Daily Review: Why the U.S. Allowed Ukraine to Strike Inside Russia
Ukrainian National guard soldiers fire at Russian positions with an anti-aircraft gun in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Nov. 11, 2022 (AP photo by Andrii Marienko).

U.S. President Joe Biden has authorized Ukraine to use U.S.-supplied weapons for strikes inside Russian territory, although only for the limited purpose of self-defense and only against targets near the border with the Kharkiv region in Ukraine’s northeast. Germany followed suit to match the new U.S. policy earlier today. (Reuters; Washington Post)

Our Take

Although narrow in its immediate effect, Biden’s decision marks a major shift in his policy toward the war in Ukraine. Since the conflict began in February 2022, Biden has been clear in mandating that no U.S.-supplied weapons be used to strike targets outside Ukraine’s borders, out of fear that doing so would escalate the conflict to involve more parties.

Indeed, fear of escalation has in many ways come to define U.S. policy toward the war in Ukraine. Since before the war began, Russian President Vladimir Putin has routinely issued threats over the West’s aid to Ukraine. And while Western leaders have tried to present a united front against Putin, they have varied somewhat in their responses to these threats, with some arguing the West should call Putin’s bluff, while others—like Biden—have often argued that doing so is not worth the risk. 

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