Congress calls for allowing Ukraine to strike ATACMS deep into Russian territory

American ATACMS. Source: picture alliance / Photoshot

The US Congress has called on President Joe Biden's administration to lift all restrictions on the use of US weapons from Ukraine. In particular, American lawmakers believe that Washington should allow the Ukrainian military to use ATACMS to strike military targets deep in Russia.

This demand, which is supported by representatives of both parties, was voiced during a hearing in Congress by Republican Congressman Thomas Kean. This was reported by the Voice of America.

During his speech, Kean criticized the administration of the current president for "half-measures" in the case of Russia's war against Ukraine.

"The change in policy to allow Ukraine to strike targets on Russian territory occurred after Russian troops opened a new front near Kharkiv. And even then, the administration took half-measures. The policy has been revised, but in general, Congress still doesn't understand what the policy is," Kean said.

He also believes that the recent US authorization for Ukraine to strike targets in Russia up to 100 kilometers inland is insufficient. The congressman suggested that with such restrictions, the Ukrainian military will not be able to hit a significant number of Russian air bases from which Russian military aircraft take off to strike Ukraine.

"Recent reports indicate that the administration is limiting the use of U.S. weapons in Russia to within 100 kilometers of the Ukrainian border. This is significantly less than the full range of ATACMS, which is over 300 km. How many Russian air bases are within the ATACMS range that the administration is preventing Ukraine from hitting?" the congressman asked Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs James O'Brien.

In response, the State Department spokesman said that the restrictions have been revised several times, and if Russia tries to expand its offensive, it will happen again.

"Our priority was to provide weapons and concentrate them in the areas of greatest need. So, at first, it was the area where Russia was conducting an offensive near Kharkiv. And now, as Jake Sullivan said last week, if Russia tries to expand this front, Ukraine will be allowed to reach targets at a greater distance," he said.

Regarding the number of air bases of the aggressor state that Ukraine cannot "reach" due to current restrictions, he could not give exact figures but emphasized that previous permits have already hurt Russia.

"If we talk about specific numbers, I think we need to involve a military representative for a separate discussion. But in general, we're seeing dramatic changes in Russia's ability to sustain its campaign against Ukraine because of the loss of facilities in the area where it is allowed to fire," O'Brien summarized.

As a reminder, on June 13, Biden answered the question whether the United States would allow ATACMS missiles to be fired at Russia. He reminded that the United States has already authorized strikes on military targets in Russia along the border with Ukraine. However, this does not apply to long-range US weapons such as ATACMS missiles: Washington's position on this issue remains unchanged.

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