Poland Supply Lines at Risk IF Russia Retaliates Against Ukraine Strikes With US Weapons in its Territory?

The West is considering allowing Ukraine to use its long-range weapons to strike military targets inside Russia, a potential escalation that risks provoking Russian retaliation and drawing NATO into a direct confrontation with a nuclear-armed adversary.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

The most compelling explanation for the West’s strategic actions during the Ukraine conflict is the creeping fast food addiction concept. In this scenario, an individual consumes a bigger quantity of fast food, decreasing the additional satisfaction or utility derived from each additional unit. In a similar vein, the West is expanding its armaments policy to maintain its effectiveness as it continues to lose its utility.

The most recent example is the policy of prohibiting the provision of long-range weapons to Ukraine; however, the West is currently contemplating permitting Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory with Western long-range weapons.

After months of complaints from Zelensky regarding the restrictions, the White House has initiated a formal reevaluation of whether to authorize the launch of attacks on Russian territory with American weapons. Kyiv would be able to launch counterattacks on artillery and missile facilities that are currently protected within Russia if the additional use of American weapons were authorized. U.S. President Joe Biden has long opposed Ukraine’s use of American weapons within Russia, as he is concerned that this could result in a direct American confrontation with a nuclear-armed adversary.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who returned from a trip to Kyiv in early May, informed the president that Ukrainians may be unable to hold the territory between Kharkiv and the Russian border if Biden does not reverse his stance. This warning was communicated discreetly, reflecting Biden’s strong antipathy to having internal arguments become public and pressuring him to change tactics.

On May 29, Blinken, during his visit to Moldova, became the first government official to openly acknowledge that the Biden administration may “adapt and adjust” its position on assaults on Russia with American weaponry in response to changing battlefield conditions.

Even before Blinken spoke publicly, the usually cautious outgoing NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg stated in an interview with The Economist published on May 25 that Ukraine’s loss of territory around Kharkiv could only be offset if Ukraine were free to target artillery and missile launch sites and command posts on the Russian side of the border. On May 28, the leaders of France and Germany joined this chorus. The United Kingdom already allows the use of its weapons against military targets on Russian territory, and it has not produced any tangible results yet. Sweden, too, has left it to the Ukrainians to make a decision with Swedish weapons.

Biden has maintained his silence thus far. Some of his advisers claim that a shift in his stance is inevitable, despite their refusal to publicly address the White House debates. However, if Biden does alter his posture, it is probable that the Ukrainians will be subject to substantial limitations on the use of the American weapons that have been provided to them. These restrictions will likely restrict the weapons to military targets that are directly within Russia’s borders and are involved in attacks on Ukraine.

It is probable that Biden will continue to enforce the prohibition on the use of American weapons deep into Russian territory or that target critical infrastructure. He draws some support from his allies in this regard: Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, refused to provide Ukraine with the German long-range Taurus missile system due to his concern that it could be capable of reaching Moscow.

Biden is short of time. A month of intense personal meetings with his key allies will begin in two weeks, commencing with the 80th anniversary of D-Day, followed by the G7 summit and the Washington commemoration of the 75th anniversary of NATO’s establishment. Projecting unity will be essential.

However, officials recognize that it is unlikely that Biden will ever make an announcement if he changes his course. Hence, US-made munitions and missiles will start striking Russian military targets.

Biden’s twin commitments to the war—to avert the outbreak of World War III and to prevent Russia from achieving victory—have consistently been at odds. However, the necessity of choosing between the potential for Ukraine’s defeat and direct involvement in assaults on the territory of a nuclear superpower has never been more pressing since 27 months after the war began.

The Kremlin, in an effort to exacerbate the decision-making process, primarily relies on the narrative that Biden poses a threat to an escalation of the conflict. Moscow has been conducting a series of exercises since May 21 to test the movement and use of its extensive arsenal of tactical nuclear weapons.

American officials have observed that Russia has never taken the risk of attacking weapons supplies to Ukraine in Poland or any other location on NATO territory. Vladimir Putin has made every effort to prevent a direct conflict with the Western alliance despite the fact that he has demonstrated his nuclear capabilities.

While some think that concerns about escalation by Russia are “overblown,” within the Biden administration, there remains serious concern about the possibility of nuclear escalation. A senior administration official said Washington had conveyed concerns to the Zelensky government about strikes on early warning radar systems inside Russia in recent weeks.

To conduct attacks, Ukrainians used locally produced drones and missiles. However, American officials expressed concern that Moscow might misunderstand the West’s intentions and told Ukraine that they consider maintaining early warning systems critically important for nuclear stability.


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