America ban on Ukraine using US-supplied weapons to hit targets in Russia creates 'sanctuary' for Putin army

America ban on Ukraine using US-supplied weapons to hit targets in Russia creates 'sanctuary' for Putin army

The refusal by America and other countries in the West to allow weapons supplied to Ukraine to be fired at targets inside Russia is creating a “sanctuary” from where Vladimir Putin’s army can prepare to launch attacks, say military experts.

The Institute for the Study of War stressed that this policy was allowing Russian commanders to build up troops and equipment close to Ukraine’s border knowing they are unlikely to be hit.

The ISW tweeted: “US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin reiterated the White House’s unwillingness to approve Ukraine’s use of US-provided weapons in strikes against military targets in Russia following a meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group on May 20.

“US and other Western limitations on Ukraine’s ability to strike military targets in Russia have created a sanctuary in Russia’s border areas from which Russian aircraft can conduct glide bomb and missile strikes against Ukrainian positions and settlements and where Russian forces and equipment can freely assemble before entering combat.”

The Washington-based military think tank added: “These US and Western policies are severely compromising Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against current Russian offensive operations in northern Kharkiv Oblast or any area along the international border where Russian forces may choose to conduct offensive operations in the future.”

British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has stressed that UK weapons supplied to Kyiv could be used throughout Ukraine and in Crimea, annexed in a widely-viewed illegal move in 2014 by Russia.

As for whether they could be used to hit targets in Russia, he told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg: “We do not get into how we would allow targeting of our weapons to be used outside of that (the whole of Ukraine), but we do provide our weapons to Ukraine in order for them to defend their country.”

He urged other countries to relax their restrictions on how Ukraine could use weapons supplied to it.

Meanwhile UK defence chiefs said Russian troops have made “small tactical gains” in eastern Ukraine in recent days, British defence chiefs.

But they “probably” suffered heavy losses as they gained ground, the Ministry of Defence added.

In its latest intelligence update, the MoD said: “Although Russia has opened a new axis in the north-eastern Ukrainian oblast (province) of Kharkiv, Russian attacks remain high in eastern Ukraine.

“Russian forces continued their operational focus on the axis north-west of Avdiivka with attacks on a broad frontage either side of the E50 highway. Russian forces have likely made a series of small tactical gains over the last 72 hours, though probably at heavy cost.”

The briefing added: “The E50 highway represents the main line of communication between Russian held Donetsk and the Ukrainian held town of Pokrovsk, which remains approximately 30km (19 miles) from current frontline position, but is likely a Russian operational objective.

“Russian attacks in this direction likely seek to create a salient and split Ukrainian forces in Donetsk.”

Drone warfare has been dramatically developed during the conflict.

Ukrainian forces shot down 28 out of 29 drones used by Russian forces in an overnight attack on seven regions, Ukraine’s air force said in a statement on Tuesday.

The drone attack damaged four private residences, 25 trucks and buses in Kharkiv, injuring five people, according to the region’s governor Oleh Syniehubov and Ukrainian Internal Affairs Ministry’s statements.

A missile attack later in the morning targeted transport infrastructure and injured two more people in the city, the governor added.

Two drones shot down in Dnipropetrovsk region damaged outbuildings, with no casualties reported by the region’s governor.

Three Shahed-type drones were shot down over the Kherson region, with 14 more shot down over the Odesa region, according to the Ukrainian military.

The rest of the drones targeted the Mykolaiv, Cherkasy and Kirovohrad regions.

Russia has stepped up drone and missile attacks around Ukraine this spring, dealing significant damage to its energy infrastructure.

The Russian-installed head of Ukraine’s occupied Luhansk province said on Tuesday that Ukraine had attacked it the previous day with ATACMS missiles supplied by the US, wounding eight people.

Leonid Pasechnik added that the attack took place in the city of Sverdlovsk.