In an effort to overcome Biden administration resistance to providing it with a new set of powerful, long-range rocket systems, the Ukrainian government is now offering the US full and ongoing visibility into their list of intended Russian targets, multiple officials familiar with the discussions tell CNN.
Why this matters: The remarkable transparency essentially gives the US veto power over Ukrainian targeting of Russia and is meant to convince the administration that providing the critical weapons would not lead to strikes inside Russian territory, which the US fears would escalate the war and draw it directly into a conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
At issue are the Army Tactical Missile Systems, or ATACMS, surface-to-surface missiles that can fly around 200 miles (300 kilometers), about four times the distance of the rockets used by the HIMARS mobile systems the US began sending to Ukraine four months ago.
Despite Ukraine’s proposal, the Biden administration still has not approved the new long-range ATACMS weapons, and argues that Ukraine is doing well with the HIMARS systems it currently has. In fact on Wednesday the administration announced funding for 18 more HIMARS for Ukraine, bringing the total to over 30 US systems.
There are also concerns inside the administration that providing the longer-range ATACMS weapons would cross a red line in the eyes of Moscow, which would see the US becoming “a direct party to the conflict.”
But that red line is becoming murkier with Friday’s annexation of four Ukraine territories by Russia. The US has stated that it will support the use of western weapons inside those zones even if Russia now considers it part of its official territory.
Still, the idea of taking a more active role in discussions over Ukrainian targeting raises American fears of being seen as more involved than it would like.