U.S. Provocatively Permits Ukraine to Use American Weapons to Attack Targets Inside Russia

Interview with retired US Army Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, conducted by Scott Harris

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its 29th month, the Kremlin is seeking to press their advantage in troop numbers and weaponry before newly-approved western military aid reaches Ukrainian forces on the front line. Russia’s continued attack on civilian targets, including Ukraine’s electrical grid, caused the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for former and active Russian military officials.

In a provocative decision made in early June, President Biden authorized Kyiv to launch some U.S.-supplied weapons at military targets inside Russia.  On June 23, Russia blamed the U.S. and vowed unspecified “consequences” for a Ukrainian missile attack on Sevastopol in occupied Crimea, which officials say killed four people — including two children — with 150 more injured on a Black Sea beach. Russia’s defense ministry said the Ukrainian munitions were U.S.-supplied ATACMS missiles, and claimed they were programmed by U.S. specialists.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005, who is now a senior fellow with the Eisenhower Media Network. Here he examines the Biden administration’s policy authorizing Ukraine to use U.S. weapons to attack targets inside Russia, and the outcome of a mid-June peace summit sponsored by Ukraine in Switzerland.

U.S. ARMY COL. LAWRENCE B. WILKERSON: I cannot believe that anyone in the United States — Biden, Blinken, (National Security Advisor) Jake Sullivan — anyone authorized Ukraine, for example, to fire that ATACMS missile, an American-provided missile at the beach in Sevastopol. And it had to be programed most likely on the ground by an American, either a civilian technician or an American military member in Ukraine. So, I don’t think the Ukrainians are capable of doing that yet.

So this is very worrisome. Did the White House know that they were going to do this? Did they know about the target selection? Because Putin has is extremely angry about it. I don’t blame him a bit for being angry. The Crimeans are out on the beach and a missile comes in and kills civilians.

This is not a part of the war. It’s not an understanding of what’s in the war and what’s not in the war. And so he can choose to reply asymmetrically. And he’s got every right under the laws of war to do that. How is he going to respond? Well, he could respond by hitting a NATO country.

He could respond by hitting facilities in NATO countries that are supporting Ukraine. He’s always had this capacity. He’s always under the laws of war. Had the right to strike anything outside of Ukraine that is supplying directly support for Ukraine and killing Russians. And he’s refrained from doing that. I don’t think he wants a war with NATO, but he is fully prepared now to do that if he has to.

And that includes his nuclear weapons and not just the tactical ones, but the strategic ones, too. We forget sometimes that the only two countries in the world left with 5,000-plus nuclear warheads, and Russia has more than 6,000, are the United States and Russia. So this is extremely dangerous to be doing these sorts of things with that kind of escalation potential.

SCOTT HARRIS: Col. Wilkerson, Ukraine organized a recent peace summit in Switzerland June 15th through the 16th. More than 80 nations were represented at the summit, but they did not sign on to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s maximalist position demanding Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine and war crimes trials and a lot else. Given that path doesn’t look very productive, what role should the Biden administration play right now in supporting peace talks to end the war in Ukraine?

U.S. ARMY COL. LAWRENCE B. WILKERSON: The first thing Biden should do himself is authorize Anthony Blinken, the secretary of state, to talk to his counterpart, Sergey Lavrov in Russia. There is a verboten rule on both Jake Sullivan and Tony Blinken; they cannot talk to Sergey Lavrov. And of course, Biden is not going to talk to Putin. This is wrong. You do not bar your diplomats from speaking to your enemies, potential or otherwise.

You want to speak to your enemies more than you want to speak to your friends, actually, especially if you’re at war. So this is a nonsense business that we’re playing with no diplomacy allowed because of our hatred for Putin. And as for the peace conference, it was a farce.

Most really important people like, for example, the most powerful country in the world right now, China, did not come and they did not come for very obvious reason. And it was stated by Wang Yi (director of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Foreign Affairs Commission Office) and others. Russia wasn’t going to be there.

So if you have 50 percent of your antagonists in a war not present at a peace conference, how is it a peace conference? And as I understand the results of the 10 issues Zelensky wanted to be on the table, they did talk about each of them, but the only three they made any edicts about or decisions on were the three they said they were going to deal with. And that was food safety and food security. Return of children, particularly Ukrainian children that were captured by the Russians and nuclear safety, which I applaud.

So they didn’t talk about anything really serious, and one could imagine that they wouldn’t. They weren’t accompanied by half of the war, if you will. Russia was not there. Absolutely absurd conference, really, if you think about it.

I’ve been paying attention to some very sophisticated polls lately. A small majority, about 52, 53 percent, if you trust the polls, are now dissatisfied with the Ukraine war. they are not necessarily fans of Vladimir Putin or Russia, but they don’t think we’re doing the right thing. They’d like to see us get out of the Ukraine conflict. So that means the major reason for Joe Biden staying in it come hell or high water — that is his re-election, because he didn’t want to be seen as cutting and running from a conflict that he had declared was existential to the future of Europe.

So why is he persisting if the majority of the American people now are with me, at least in some ways, that this is a stupid conflict and that we shouldn’t even be in it?

For more information, visit Eisenhower Media Network at eisenhowermedianetwork.org.

Listen to Scott Harris’ in-depth interview with retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (14:47) and see more articles and opinion pieces in the Related Links section of this page.

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