Kiev can decide ‘for itself’ how to use US weapons – Blinken

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Washington is only “committed to making sure” that Ukraine has everything it needs to “succeed,” the US Secretary of State has said

The US will not stop Ukraine from launching strikes deep into Russian territory with American weapons, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Kiev on Wednesday. Washington does not specifically encourage the Ukrainian military to do so, but would not stand in the way either, he stated.

The Pentagon is reportedly preparing a fresh military aid package to Ukraine worth up to $6 billion. The package is slated to include Patriot and NASAMS air defense systems, artillery shells, HIMARS rockets, air-to-air missiles, drones and counter-drone weapons, Politico reported last month, citing sources.

Washington has already rushed $1 billion worth of ammunition to Kiev, drawn down from US military stocks, after a $61 billion aid bill that had been stuck in Congress since last autumn was eventually passed and signed by President Joe Biden.

“We have not encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine, but ultimately Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war,” Blinken said on Wednesday, explaining the US stance.

When pressed further on the issue during a joint press conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, Blinken said that “the decisions that Ukraine has to make, Ukraine will make for itself.” Washington is only “committed to making sure that Ukraine has the equipment it needs to succeed on the battlefield,” he added.

Previously, Washington reportedly discouraged Kiev from using US-supplied weapons to strike outside of its territory.

Earlier this month, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron explicitly told Reuters that Ukraine had the right to use long-range missiles sent by the UK to strike deep inside Russia. Moscow condemned the remarks, summoning London’s ambassador to warn him about possible retaliation should British weapons be used in Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory.

A potential response could involve strikes against “any British military facilities and equipment on the territory of Ukraine and beyond,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said on Tuesday that Kiev could use British weapons to strike Russia’s Crimean Peninsula. London considers the region, which joined Russia in 2014 following a referendum, to be an “integral part of Ukraine,” he said.
Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the Ukrainian military actively used British weapons in “terrorist attacks on civilian infrastructure and the civilian population of Donbass and other Russian regions.”

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