WP: Ukraine using American weapons to strike inside Russia won’t end the war

9:56 07.06.2024 •

Photo: Washington Post

The Biden administration’s decision to approve Ukraine’s use of U.S. weapons to attack targets inside Russia is, as President Biden might say, a big deal, writes ‘The Washington Post’.  

This isn’t the first time the United States, under pressure from Ukraine and Western allies, has crossed a threshold previously deemed too escalatory. Past decisions on HIMARS launchers, cluster bombs, long-range munitions and F-16s were also driven by perceived Russian gains on the battlefield.

Strikes inside Russia using U.S. weapons might slow military operations around Kharkiv, but they will not be a game changer. After all, U.S. weapons are routinely used to hit Russian supply lines and command posts in occupied eastern Ukraine, with Russia nevertheless steadily realizing gains there. And so the grinding, attritional war will continue.

Past evidence also suggests Russia is not going to dramatically escalate just because the United States provides a new weapons system or eases constraints on an existing one. Russia is, relatively speaking, winning the war at the moment, so it is unlikely President Vladimir Putin will take the risk of provoking direct conflict with the United States and its allies. Moscow might well respond, but it is likely to do so in an indirect or asymmetric way, rather than firing a missile into a European capital next week.

The real problem with Biden’s decision is that Washington has yet again made a major policy change reactively — in response to Russia’s military moves and not as part of a broader strategy to end the war. The Russians will continue to push, and in three or six months the United States could find itself back here again, under a similar Ukrainian and allied pressure campaign, tempted to breach its next threshold to try to reverse the negative trajectory. As Secretary of State Antony Blinken put it, “we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is, as necessary, adapt and adjust.”

But adaptation and adjustment do not constitute strategy, and reactive escalation absent a strategy is not sound policy. Escalating U.S. involvement in this conflict — or any conflict — should be guided by an idea about how to bring the war to an end.

That end will come, as the administration itself has repeatedly stated, at the negotiating table. But Ukraine and the West have shown no signs of being ready to start bargaining with Russia. And imposing costs absent a bargaining process makes further escalation inevitable.

This spiral dynamic — of unrelenting Russian aggression and ever-increasing Western military support for Ukraine to counter Moscow’s momentum — has been ratcheting up nearly 2½ years.


…Vladimir Putin during a meeting with heads of the world’s leading news agencies said, in particular: “If someone considers it possible to supply weapons to a combat zone to strike our territory and create problems for us, then why do we not have the right to supply our weapons of the same class to those regions of the world where attacks will be carried out on sensitive facilities of those countries that do this to Russia? That is, the answer may be symmetrical. We'll think about it.”


read more in our Telegram-channel https://t.me/The_International_Affairs