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US Escalating Ukraine’s War Against Russia—But It’s Just a "Subtle Shift in Messaging"

The Politico headline was dramatic: “ US says Ukraine can hit inside Russia ‘anywhere’ its forces attack across the border.” But the June 20 article underneath it doesn’t report some new statement, or a change in US policy. Rather, it’s a “subtle shift in messaging” that “comes just weeks after the U.S. quietly gave Kyiv the green light to strike inside Russia in response to a cross-border assault on the city of Kharkiv.” They insist that it’s not a change in policy.

The reference point is Jake Sullivan, telling the PBS Newshour on June 17, that the agreement with Ukraine about firing American weapons into Russia extends to “anywhere that Russian forces are coming across the border from the Russian side to the Ukrainian side to try to take additional Ukrainian territory.”

Two unnamed U.S. officials maintained that allowing Ukraine to hit inside Russia in response to counterfire from anywhere across the border is not a shift in policy, since the Kharkiv decision was made. Originally, the move was characterized only in the context of the ongoing Kharkiv assault, but that did not exclude the possibility of hitting back against other cross-border attacks, said one of the officials.

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