Russian strikes on Kharkiv push US to reconsider use of American weapons on Russian soil

Mark Hertling
Mark Hertling

Russian strikes on civilian targets, including the attack on the Epicenter hypermarket in Kharkiv on May 25, are pushing the U.S. to reconsider its stance on using American weapons against Russia, former U.S. Army Europe commander Mark Hertling told CNN on May 27.

"We're probably going to see a lowering of the standards for using that military equipment on specific Russian targets," he said.

There is "much discussion" within President Joe Biden's administration about whether Ukraine should use American weapons to strike targets within Russia, Hertling said.

Read also: NATO mulls protecting Ukrainian skies by shooting down Russian missiles

Strong political and military arguments exist against this, particularly because the U.S. must be prepared to respond to a strong campaign by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who would claim that the U.S. is attacking Russia using "Ukrainian proxy forces," Hertling said.

Russian strike on Kharkiv's Epicenter on May 25

"An explosion rocked a residential area in Kharkiv on May 25 at 4:02 p.m.," stated Mayor Ihor Terekhov.

Two Russian glide bombs struck the Epicenter shopping mall.

Rescue workers continue to clear the rubble of the destroyed mall.

Read also: Zelenskyy seeks Western support for preemptive strikes inside Russia

"Law enforcement has identified 18 victims of the Russian attack, including a 12-year-old girl and her mother," the Prosecutor General's Office reported.

May 27 was a day of mourning in Kharkiv to honor the victims.

Use of Western weapons on Russian territory

Ukraine has been asking its partners for long-range weapons to strike targets deep inside Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory.

Some countries have already taken this step: the UK and France have transferred Storm Shadow cruise missiles.

Read also: NATO PA urges allowing Ukraine to strike targets in Russian territory

The New York Times reported on May 22 that after a "sobering" visit to Kyiv, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged President Joe Biden to allow Ukraine to use American weapons against targets inside Russia.

Le Monde's analysis of Blinken's statements in Kyiv suggested that Ukraine might have received tacit approval from the U.S. to use American weapons on Russian targets. This comes as UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced a $3.74 billion annual military aid package to Ukraine on May 3, with no restrictions on using UK weapons against Russia, signaling a potential shift in Western policy towards more direct engagement.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated on May 26 his opposition to Ukraine using Western weapons to strike inside Russian territory.

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