The Ukrainians began strikes on Russian soil using US weapons

USA TODAY

Ukraine may have realised the first benefits of being allowed to strike Russian territory with Western weapons last week.
On May 26 and 27, France and Germany said they were allowing Ukraine to use their weapons against targets on Russian soil, following Russia’s new offensive against Kharkiv on May 10.
US sources told media on May 30 that the US was allowing Ukraine to use its weapons “for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv”.
Ukraine’s first declared strike on Russian soil with Western weapons last Friday may have been based on a misunderstanding of these restrictions.
Ukraine’s next reported strike on Russian soil with a US weapon appears to have been in the designated area.
The UK and France, which were the first to lift restrictions on weapons use, have not publicly conveyed any such restrictions.
Over the weekend, Ukraine struck a Russian S-300 or S-400 air defence complex in Belgorod using high mobility army rocket systems (HIMARS).
Ukraine also continued to target Russian assets with its domestically-built long-range drones, which carry no restrictions on use.

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It’s possible that last week’s permission to use Western weapons on Russian territory brought Ukraine its first benefits.

After Russia’s new offensive against Kharkiv on May 10, France and Germany announced on May 26 and 27 that they were allowing Ukraine to use its weapons against targets on Russian soil.

On May 30, US officials informed the media that the US was permitting Ukraine to use its armaments “for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv.”.

This implied that Ukraine was not permitted to use its intelligence to target weaponry and troop concentrations in advance, only to retaliate against a position from which incoming fire had originated.

“The lack of clarity from the US is a missed chance to discourage Russian plans to launch an attack into northern Ukraine from across the border,” stated the Washington-based think tank Institute for the Study of War.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, announced last week that there were troop concentrations to the north of Sumy.

It’s possible that a misinterpretation of these limitations led to Ukraine’s first known strike on Russian territory using Western weapons last Friday.

The general staff of Ukraine declared, “The Defence Forces of Ukraine attacked the Kerch ferry crossing with ATACMS [US Army Tactical] missiles, which was actively used by the enemy to secure its grouping of troops in temporarily occupied Crimea.”.

The Kerch ferry crossing is located far from Kharkiv, which is close to the Russian region of Belgorod, on the Russian side of the Kerch Strait, which divides Crimea from the Russian region of Krasnodar Krai.

As well as interfering with military logistics, Ukraine said that it had “significantly damaged two ferries carrying railway and car transports.”.

The US further declared that it would only permit Ukraine to use its 300 km (186 mi) ATACMS in occupied territories, essentially Crimea, which is located up to 300 km (186 km) from the Ukrainian front lines in certain areas.

The location of Ukraine’s alleged use of a US weapon during its subsequent attack on Russian territory seems to be specified.

Ukraine could “defend itself” against attacks on the Kharkiv region from adjacent Russian territory, according to Germany’s ambassador to the UK, who expressed restrictions akin to those of the US.

The United Kingdom and France, who were the first to remove prohibitions on the use of weapons, have not made any mention of these restrictions in the media. As a rule, Germany has avoided surpassing the US in military aid, and both Germany and the US have tended to be more conservative.

Using high mobility army rocket systems, Ukraine used the weekend to strike a Russian S-300 or S-400 air defense complex in Belgorod (HIMARS). Footage that was geolocated revealed a damaged command post and two destroyed launchers.

After the idea of geographical limitations was revealed, the allies of Ukraine started to voice their opinions regarding the use of F-16s, which they are scheduled to begin supplying this summer.

According to Denmark’s Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Ukraine will be able to use the F-16 fighter jets it is loaning it to strike targets inside of Russia without any limitations.

Kajsa Ollongren, the minister of defense for the Netherlands, sent a similar message on June 3.

She told Politico that “Once we give it to Ukraine, it’s theirs to use.”.

By fall, the Netherlands has promised to give Ukraine 24 F-16s. This summer, Denmark is supposed to deliver its aircraft.

Belgium’s Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, has stated that Ukraine is not permitted to use Belgian F-16s or any other weapons to target Russia. These positions are in sharp contrast to each other.

The German Institute for International and Security Affairs fellow Jens Bastian told Al Jazeera that Belgium has been a wary ally of Ukraine, in part to safeguard its diamond trade.

He stated, “We are finding more and more instances where this maturity backsliding is leading to open, bitter conflict amongst EU states.”.

The main revenue-related problem with the diamond trade, which Belgium was able to avoid including in earlier sanctions packages, will only be addressed in the 12th sanctions package [in December 2023]. “.

With 42 million carats produced in 2022, Russia will be the largest diamond miner in the world. The largest diamond market in the world is located in Belgium.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin issued fresh warnings that Moscow has not ruled out using nuclear force in response to the lifting of geographic restrictions.

Our doctrine is nuclear. Examine what it says. He said to senior editors from Western news organizations on Wednesday, “We consider it possible for us to use all means at our disposal if someone’s actions threaten our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”.

By claiming on Tuesday that Ukraine has always had the capacity to shoot down Russian aircraft in Russian airspace and has done so on multiple occasions, US National Security Spokesman John Kirby seemed to minimize the importance of the move.

Anger on the scene.

Oleksandr Syrskii, the head of Ukraine’s armed forces, announced that more troops were being sent to the Kharkiv front.

Russian soldiers were dying in Chasiv Yar at a rate of between fifty and sixty per day, according to Khortytsia group spokesman Nazar Voloshyn, and being wounded at a rate double that of casualties. He did not provide an estimate of the number of Ukrainian casualties, and Al Jazeera is unable to confirm information provided by either side.

Nonetheless, said Syrskyii, “these forces are not enough now to provide a full-scale assault and breakthrough in our defence”.

According to the Military Media Center of Ukraine, 8,790 Russian soldiers—or 18 battalions—were reported killed or injured in the preceding week. The army also calculated that 280 artillery systems, 177 armored combat vehicles, and 103 tanks had been destroyed.

Russia has long been said by Ukraine to have a significant artillery advantage, up to a 10:1 ratio in some areas.

First person view (FPV) drones are short-range drones that are used to identify enemy positions. According to a Russian military reporter, Ukraine has a 3–4:1 advantage in these drones. The chief element in a reasonably successful deterrent of our offensive actions, he claimed, has been Ukraine’s drones for a number of months. “.

Ukraine declared at the start of the year that one million FPV drones would be constructed on its territory. Over 3,000 to 5,000 Russian FPV drones have reportedly been downed each week, according to reports from the last few weeks.

It appeared that this week’s dexterity extended to controlling drone-to-drone combat.

A Ukrainian drone has shot down two Russian drones, an Orlan-10 reconnaissance UAV and a Lancet loitering munition, for the first time in this war, according to Ukrainian army spokesman Dmytro Pletenchuk.

He remarked, “This is a new chapter in the history of small air combat in this war.”.

Using its own long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (unrestricted use), Ukraine persisted in targeting Russian assets.

A week ago, the Security Service (SBU) of Ukraine declared that it had destroyed a long-range radar system called Nebo, located close to Armyansk in Crimea. The system was said to have covered a distance of 380 km (236 miles) along the southern front line. Its general staff reported that day that drones had successfully attacked an oil depot in Krasnodar Krai.

On Saturday, a massive strike by Russia using 53 missiles and 47 drones was launched against the Ukrainian power infrastructure. According to the Ukrainian air force, nearly all of the drones and 35 missiles were shot down; however, energy operators reported that two thermal power plants and two hydroelectric plants had suffered significant damage.

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