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Ukraine appears to have used US weapons to take out targets on Russian soil, kicking off a new stage in the war

Mia Jankowicz   

Ukraine appears to have used US weapons to take out targets on Russian soil, kicking off a new stage in the war
  • Ukraine appears to have struck a prized air-defense system on Russian soil using a US-supplied HIMARS.
  • The attack came amid a flurry of reports suggesting a major Ukrainian attack over the weekend.

Ukraine appears to have used US-supplied weapons on Russian soil in a wave of reported attacks — signaling that a new phase of the war may well be underway.

Russian media outlets said on Monday that Ukraine fired M42 missiles from M270 and HIMARS rocket launchers — all of which are US-made — over the border into Russia, the Kyiv Post reported.

The paper added that Russian officials said that cross-border attacks took place, but gave no details as to what weapons were used.

If confirmed, the strikes would represent the first known instance in this war of US-supplied weapons being used on Russian territory — a red line that President Joe Biden only pulled back on late last week.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy acknowledged on Sunday that his forces had fired HIMARS from the northern Kharkiv region, the Kyiv Post reported.

On Monday, Ukrainian government minister Iryna Vereshchuk shared an image of burning military equipment on Facebook, saying that a prized Russian S-300 air defense system had been struck, CNN reported.

She noted that it took place in the "first days after permission to use Western weapons on enemy territory," without giving further details, per CNN.

The image appeared to have been taken from the pro-Russian Telegram account Dosye Shpiona, which said that a HIMARS had been used.

BI was unable to find Vereshchuk's post on either her Facebook or Telegram accounts, suggesting it has since been deleted.

But the Institute for the Study of War, citing prominent pro-Russian military bloggers, also concluded that an S300 or S400 system had been struck in Russia's Belgorod region, some 60 miles from the border, on either June 1 or June 2, saying it was "likely" hit by a HIMARS.

The target was well within HIMARS range but exceeded the range of the systems Ukraine usually uses to strike over the border, the think tank said.

The Kyiv Post cited a flurry of other Russian media reports — both unofficial and state-sanctioned — detailing dozens of strikes aimed at artillery systems, troop concentrations, and a bridge as part of the attack.

The reports came shortly after Biden said that Ukraine could fire HIMARS against targets on Russian soil, in limited circumstances.

The change in policy came after several of Ukraine's Western allies — including the UK and France — gave similar go-aheads.

The Biden administration's decision came after months of appeals from Ukrainian officials.

One Ukrainian soldier complained of having to watch helplessly as Russia built up its forces over the border ahead of a renewed offensive in the Kharkiv region, held back by the US restrictions on the use of its weapons.

Depriving Russia of these "sanctuary zones" could be of "huge" assistance to Ukraine, Keir Giles, a senior consulting fellow at Chatham House's Russia and Eurasia Programme, told Business Insider's Thibault Spirlet last week.

But the decision was long past due, he said.

And faced with other problems — including recruitment and ammunition shortages — the US decision is "clearly not a silver bullet to win the war," Alexander Libman, a professor of Russian and East European politics at the Free University of Berlin, told BI.