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ISW explains which targets US allowed to strike on territory of Russia with its weapons

ISW explains which targets US allowed to strike on territory of Russia with its weapons The US has allowed the Ukrainian Armed Forces to strike at the territory of the Russian Federation in exceptional cases (photo:

The US has allowed the Defense Forces to attack only those units and objects on the territory of the Russian Federation that are preparing to strike Ukrainian territory or Ukrainian Armed Forces positions, or are already attacking them, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

The US still prohibits the Armed Forces from striking legitimate military targets on Russian territory that are not actively attacking Ukraine or preparing to do so, citing recent reports from the Associated Press and the Washington Post. The Pentagon continues to prohibit the Ukrainian Armed Forces from attacking Russian military objects that are not engaging in active attacks on Ukraine or preparing to do so.

The report refers to a statement by Pentagon spokesperson Charlie Dietz that the US allows Ukraine to fire HIMARS rockets at Russian territory where Russian forces are attacking Ukraine, and that the rules for the use of provided US weapons on Russian territory do not depend on geography or a specific range of action. On June 17, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan similarly stated that it's not about geography.

ISW analysts explained the statements made by US officials. They suggest that if Russia attacks or intends to attack Ukraine from its territory, the Armed Forces are allowed to strike back with American weapons only against units attacking Ukraine from across the border.

"These statements indicate that the US will only allow Ukrainian forces to strike Russian military targets if Russian targets first demonstrate that they are engaged in active combat operations or preparations for imminent combat operations. US restrictions likely force Ukrainian leadership to carefully determine whether or not a given target meets the aforementioned requirements before authorizing tactical fire missions," the report said.

The ISW noted that US policy continues to protect most of Russia's secure space from attacks, as it prohibits the Ukrainian army from launching ATACMS ballistic missiles at any military targets on Russian territory. However, ISW clarified that none of the major Russian military airfields are within the reach of GMLRS shells (60-92 km), but many are within the reach of ATACMS missiles (up to 300 km).

Prohibition of strikes on the territory of the Russian Federation

Since the start of Western arms deliveries in the summer of 2022, the US and Western allies of Kyiv have prohibited the use of this armament to strike Russian territory - only attacks on enemy objects in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine are allowed.

In May of this year, Russia began an offensive in the Kharkiv region, which was accompanied by active strikes with guided aerial bombs on settlements in the region and the city of Kharkiv. Kyiv appealed to the US and allies to allow the use of Western systems and armament to shoot down Russian aircraft and other objects attacking the border of the Kharkiv region.

Initially, the US did not grant such permission, but after most European countries allowed the Armed Forces to use their weapons to strike the Russian Federation, Washington changed its mind. The White House and the Pentagon allowed strikes with American weapons and American ammunition on Russian territory but prohibited the use of ATACMS ballistic missiles for this purpose.

On June 21, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that Ukraine was allowed to strike back at forces that were attacking it from across the border. He added that it's not about geography, it's about common sense.

However, The Washington Post reported that the US has prohibited the Armed Forces from hitting objects more than 100 km from the border with Russia and from targeting key Russian airfields.