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Following discussions with Ukrainian officials, the Biden administration has come around to the idea that Ukraine may need the military equipment to strike Russian-occupied Crimea, regardless of the risks such a move entails, the New York Times reported, citing several unnamed U.S. officials.
Russia invaded and occupied Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in February 2014 during the EuroMaidan Revolution that ousted pro-Russian ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. The peninsula houses Russia's Black Sea Fleet and tens of thousands of Russian troops.
Amid Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to retake the peninsula. Ukraine has also targeted Russian air and military bases in Crimea in order to hamper Russia's war effort.
According to the officials, the Biden administration now believes that if the Ukrainian military has what it needs to threaten Russia's occupation of Crimea, Ukraine's future negotiating position will be stronger, the New York Times reported.
Officials on both sides are discussing the use of American-supplied weapons, such as HIMARS rocket systems and Bradley fighting vehicles, to target Russia's control over a land bridge that is a critical supply route connecting Crimea to Russia by way of the Russian-occupied cities of Melitopol and Mariupol, the New York Times article says.
The officials told the newspaper, however, that U.S. President Joe Biden is not yet ready to give Ukraine the long-range missile systems that Kyiv would need to attack Russian positions in Crimea.
And while the officials warn that the risk of Russia using a tactical nuclear weapon still remains, fears among U.S. officials that Russia will use one have diminished.