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While Washington "does not encourage nor enable" Ukraine to use U.S.-supplied weapon systems outside of the country, it is "fundamentally" Kyiv's decision how to use those weapons, U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said at a press conference.
A journalist asked Blinken about the U.S.'s hesitation to provide Ukraine with long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) allegedly caused by fears Kyiv would use them to strike Russian soil.
"When it comes to how Ukrainians use these systems, the targeting decisions are theirs. They're not ours," the official replied.
"And they (Ukrainians) have to make judgments about what can be most effective in working to regain their full sovereignty, their territorial integrity," added the official.
Blinken emphasized that the provision of weapon systems is insufficient to ensure Ukraine can deter Russian military aggression.
"Ukrainians have to be able to use them effectively, and sometimes with new, sophisticated systems, that requires training, and of course we're engaged in that. They need to be able to maintain them… and then to fit into a coherent military program that makes sense in helping Ukraine achieve its objectives," he explained.
Ukrainian officials have spent months lobbying the U.S. government for ATACMS, which can travel over 300 kilometers.
On Sept. 8, ABC News reported, citing unnamed U.S. officials, that Washington would likely send the missile systems to Ukraine in an upcoming security assistance package.
In a Sept. 15 press conference, Blinken spoke along with Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. She said that concerns over potential Ukrainian strikes inside Russia are not an argument for Germany when considering the issue of supplying long-range weapons, as Ukraine has the right to defend itself.
"The argument is that there are sensitive issues to be clarified, especially for our system, Taurus, and it's not as easy as it might sound in the first place… We've made it clear repeatedly that we're in intensive discussions and examining what we can do," Baerbock told reporters.
German-made Taurus air-launched missiles have a range of up to 500 kilometers. Ukraine submitted a request for Taurus missiles in May.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on Ukraine's partners on Aug. 11 to provide Kyiv with long-range missiles such as Taurus and ATACMS, emphasizing that they will be deployed only on Ukraine's territory.
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