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Ukraine could fire US-supplied missiles at Russia anywhere it is attacked, Pentagon says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukraine's military is authorized to use longer-range U.S.-supplied missiles to strike targets in Russia beyond the front lines near Kharkiv if it acts in self-defense, the Pentagon said.

President Joe Biden initially eased restrictions on how Ukraine could use U.S.-supplied munitions to give it another option to defend the eastern city of Kharkiv against a relentless barrage of Russian missiles. Since the Russian invasion began in 2022, the United States has maintained a policy of not allowing Ukraine to use weapons it provided to strike targets in Russia, for fear of further escalation of the war.

Russia has fired on Ukrainian targets from within its border, treating its territory as a “security zone,” said Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary.

“As we see these forces conducting these types of operations across the border, we have explained that Ukraine can and does have the right to retaliate in self-defense,” Ryder told reporters Thursday.

The Pentagon said the additional authorizations did not constitute new policy.

“It’s not a question of geography. It’s a matter of common sense,” said Army spokesman Maj. Charlie Dietz. “If Russia attacks or is about to attack Ukraine from its territory, it makes sense to allow Ukraine to retaliate against forces hitting it from across the border. »

“Additionally, they can use U.S.-supplied air defense systems to knock Russian planes out of the sky, even if those Russian planes are in Russian airspace, if they are about to fire over Ukrainian airspace,” Dietz said in a statement. .

The White House also announced Thursday that it is accelerating the delivery of air defense interceptor missiles to Ukraine by redirecting planned shipments to other allied countries, as Washington scrambles to counter increasing Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

The United States was already sending Ukraine a steady stream of interceptors for its air defense systems, including Patriot missile batteries and the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS.

National security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that more urgently needed to be done as the Russian military accelerated its missile and drone attacks on cities and infrastructure centers in the approach of this winter. The rushed shipments are expected to include hundreds of Patriot missiles.

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