The Ukrainian military has escalated its utilization of U.S.-supplied long-range missiles to target Russian airfields and warships deep within Russian-held Ukrainian territory. However, the United States has restricted Ukraine from expanding these attacks into Russia itself, thereby restricting its capability to defend against enemy offensives.

In recent days, troops in Kyiv have carried out three offensives using Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS). These strikes, directed at an air-defense system and a missile ship in Russian-occupied Ukrainian areas in the eastern and southern regions, were acknowledged by both sides and verified by independent groups that scrutinize geolocated battlefield footage.

The aim of these strikes is to impair Moscow’s capacity to conduct military operations, ultimately aiding Ukrainian forces in countering Russian advancements on the ground. Yet, only targeting Russian-held Ukrainian territory has been permitted by the United States and its Western allies, as they fear an escalation of conflict if attacks are carried out within Russian borders.

Officials in Ukraine have criticized this policy, highlighting that it allows Moscow to launch assaults from Russia without consequences, limiting Ukraine’s ability to fend off such attacks. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine voiced his frustration, stating in an interview with The New York Times, “Our partners do not authorize us to strike, giving them a significant advantage.”

There is mounting pressure on the Biden administration to reconsider this policy in light of Ukraine’s challenges on the battlefield. The most recent call came from NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, who told The Economist on Friday that denying Ukraine the ability to use these weapons against legitimate military targets in Russia makes defense very difficult for them.

Ukraine does not manufacture powerful long-range armaments, relying on Western allies to acquire them. Washington had previously refrained from providing ATACMS, fearing that doing so could breach one of Moscow’s “red lines,” leading to a dangerous escalation.

However, this changed late last year when President Biden authorized the provision of a variant of ATACMS to Ukraine with a range enabling strikes up to 100 miles away. Subsequently, in April, Washington clandestinely supplied Kyiv with an upgraded version of the missile system, extending its reach to about 190 miles.

On Friday, the United States announced a $275 million military aid package for Kyiv, including ammunition for the HIMARS rocket launcher, capable of deploying ATACMS missiles. Zelensky expressed gratitude to the White House, stating via social media that the assistance encompassed “much-needed long-range missiles.”

These missiles have enabled Ukraine to strike at logistical and command posts deep within Russian-held territories. Ukrainian forces have targeted airfields, ammunition stockpiles, antiaircraft missile installations, and troop concentrations.

One particular focus has been on the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, a key logistical hub for Moscow’s forces in the southeast and a significant base for missile and drone strikes. Moscow reported multiple incidents involving ATACMS missiles in this area last month.

Recently, the Ukrainian military announced that it had struck the Crimean port of Sevastopol causing damage to a small missile ship. The Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington, indicated that post-attack satellite imagery suggested damage to the vessel.

Earlier in May, Ukrainian forces targeted a Russian air-defense system near an air base in Crimea, as reported by Oryx, a website specializing in military analysis that assesses losses based on visual evidence.

The inability to launch attacks into Russia itself has provided a significant advantage to Moscow, according to Ukrainian officials. This advantage became apparent when Russian troops initiated a new offensive this month in the Kharkiv region of northeastern Ukraine. Despite the buildup of forces and equipment by Moscow near the border before the offensive, the policy of the allies prevented Ukraine from targeting them with Western arms.

Following about two weeks of intense engagements, Zelensky announced on Friday that the Russian offensive in that area had been halted and the situation was under control. Nevertheless, this offensive has yielded Moscow its most substantial territorial gains in Ukraine since late 2022.

Russia has conducted strikes against Ukrainian urban centers from within its borders, with a focus on Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine situated approximately 25 miles from the Russian border. On Saturday, Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the Kharkiv regional military administration, reported a strike on a shopping center in the city resulting in the death of at least two individuals and injuries to over 24 others.