Kiev also needs more air defense systems and additional training for F-16 pilots, a group of lawmakers said in a letter FILE PHOTO: A US-made ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile System) projectile being launched. © AFP / Jo Yong Hak

A group of US congressmen has appealed to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, asking him to allow Ukraine to attack Russian territory with American weapons and for an overall increase in military assistance to Kiev.

The letter, which was published on Tuesday, followed a meeting between House members and a group of Ukrainian parliamentarians who visited Washington last week.

The key request by the authors of the document was for Austin to authorize “the use of US-provided weapons to strike strategic targets within Russian territory under certain circumstances.”

Last week, US Defense Department spokeswoman Sabrina Singh reiterated the Pentagon’s stance that American weapons can only be deployed to “take back Ukrainian sovereign territory,” not to target Russia.

The lawmakers, including the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mike Turner, the committee’s ranking member, Jim Himes, and former president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Gerry Connolly, argued that the “Ukrainians have been unable to defend themselves due to the [President Joe Biden] Administration’s current policy.”

It is “essential” that Kiev’s commanders are provided with the ability “to conduct a full spectrum of operations” required to respond to Moscow, the letter read.

Let Ukraine use US weapons to strike inside Russia – Nuland Let Ukraine use US weapons to strike inside Russia – Nuland

Its authors also said that the Ukrainian MPs told them that Kiev needs up to seven additional US-made Patriot batteries to intercept Russian missiles and drones.

According to the lawmakers, the US must provide training to more Ukrainian pilots to fly the American-designed F-16 fighter jets, which had been promised to Kiev by its Western backers last year, but are yet to be supplied.

The head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Aleksandr Litvinenko, told the Financial Times on Tuesday that the Biden administration should lift what he called an “absolutely unfair” ban on strikes within Russian territory with US-supplied arms.

Ukraine could “stymie” Moscow’s advances along the front line if it was able to strike arms depots, logistics hubs, and oil refineries deep inside Russia with American long-range missiles and other weaponry, Litvinenko, who replaced Aleksey Danilov in the job in March, argued.

On Tuesday, Russia staged tactical nuclear drills which involved the delivery of nuclear weapons to troops from storage sites, arming of missiles, and preparation of their launch. According to Moscow, the exercises were needed to show Russia’s ability to respond to any external threats amid continued escalation with the West. The announcement of the drills earlier in May followed the delivery of long-range US-made ATACMS missiles by Washington to Kiev. (RT)