As the United States and its allies provide Ukraine with increasingly sophisticated arms, Washington has held discussions with Kyiv about the danger of escalation if it strikes deep inside Russia, U.S. and diplomatic officials tell Reuters.
The behind-the-scenes discussions, which are highly sensitive and have not been previously reported, do not put explicit geographic restrictions on the use of weapons supplied to Ukrainian forces. But the conversations have sought to reach a shared understanding of the risk of escalation, three U.S. officials and diplomatic sources said.
“We have concerns about escalation and yet still do not want to put geographic limits or tie their hands too much with the stuff we’re giving them,” said one of the three U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.
President Joe Biden’s administration and U.S. allies have been increasingly willing to give Ukraine longer-range weaponry, including M777 howitzers, as Kyiv battles Russia’s invasion forces with more success than American intelligence officials had predicted. The Pentagon’s announcement last week that Denmark will provide Ukraine with Harpoon anti-ship missiles would further extend Kyiv’s reach.
After initially forecasting Ukraine would be overrun by Russia’s much bigger military, American officials have recently voiced hopes that Ukrainian forces can win the war, and want to arm them to do so.
U.S. officials say the Biden administration is even considering supplying Kyiv with the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which depending on the munitions can have a range of hundreds of kilometers.