Biden allows Ukraine to strike into Russia near Kharkiv in major policy shift

The policy reversal marks the first time the Biden administration has permitted Ukraine to take its military offensive into Russia itself, even if the scope remains restricted for now.

President Joe Biden has authorized Kyiv to use American-supplied weapons to conduct limited strikes inside Russian territory near the Kharkiv region for self-defence purposes, according to White House officials.

The policy reversal marks the first time the Biden administration has permitted Ukraine to take its military offensive into Russia itself, even if the scope remains restricted for now. Previously, the U.S. had prohibited Kyiv from deploying American arms for cross-border attacks into Russia, no matter the provocation.

However, the official insisted the authorization only extended to “acts of self-defence” aimed at protecting Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, which has endured relentless Russian bombardment from just across the border. Long-range strikes deeper inside Russia using tactical missiles remain banned.

Still, the move signals a calculated escalation by Biden amid Ukrainian pleas for more offensive capability as it gears up for an expected spring counteroffensive to retake Russian-occupied territory in the east and south.

Until now, Biden has vehemently opposed cross-border attacks, fearful of prompting an uncontrolled escalation that could draw the U.S. and NATO into direct confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. But military realities appear to have forced a shift in calculus.

With Russian forces dug in across swaths of Donbas and blasting Kharkiv’s outskirts with impunity, Biden seems willing to afford Ukraine’s forces greater flexibility to neutralize threats from Russian firing positions and tactical staging areas just inside the border region.