President Joe Biden has given Ukraine permission to use American-supplied weapons to strike targets in Russia, but only near the Kharkiv region, US officials say.

“The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use US weapons for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them,” a US official told BBC News.

While Washington’s policy of not allowing long-range strikes inside Russia has not changed, according to reports, Moscow will likely view the latest measure as an escalation.

Russian forces have made a number of gains in the Kharkiv region in recent weeks following a surprise offensive in the area, which is situated on the border with Russia.

A number of European countries, including France, Germany and the UK, earlier signalled they were open to an easing of restrictions on how Ukraine can use weapons supplied by the West.

But Washington, which has provided the bulk of Ukraine’s weaponry, had resisted easing these restrictions over fears of escalation.

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