Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday that the war in his country is “returning to the territory of Russia” — a claim the Pentagon insisted to Fox News Digital will not include the use of U.S. weapons.
“Gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia — to its symbolic center and military bases, and this is an inevitable, natural and absolutely fair process,” Zelenskyy said. “Ukraine is getting stronger.”
The comments came after Russian officials said earlier Sunday it downed Ukrainian drones over Moscow.
However, while Ukraine has its sights set on taking on Russia in Russian territory, the Pentagon has repeatedly stated that its weapons given to Ukraine will not be used outside Ukraine. Maj. Charlie Dietz, a spokesman for the Department of Defense, reemphasized this position Monday in response to Zelenskyy’s comments.
“It has been clearly communicated by the U.S. at all levels that the weapons provided are not to be used across Ukraine’s borders,” Dietz told Fox News Digital. “In the past, when we have asked the Ukrainians to offer the U.S. explicit assurances, they’ve stuck by those assurances, so we should give the Ukrainians the benefit of the doubt.”
“The DOD will continue to observe how the Ukrainians use the provided assistance,” he added. “They will be reporting their usage back to us, and so we can always make judgments later if we feel like those assurances are not being met. But we are confident that the Ukrainians will be true to their word.”
The U.S. has gradually increased its supply of weapons given to Ukraine since the inception of the war with Russia in 2022. This includes drones, tanks, mortars, ships, air missile systems, air defense systems, ammunition and a plan for F-16s fighter jets.
Former intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler said the Pentagon has no feasible control over whether Ukraine uses these weapons in its push into Russian territory.
“The Pentagon’s statement contradicts reality and President Zelenskyy’s own statement from yesterday, in which he proudly announced that war is coming back to Russia — Zelenskyy even justified Ukraine’s strikes on Russia proper, which President Biden at least in the initial stages of the conflict promised to avoid,” Koffler told Fox News Digital. “Does Joe Biden seriously think that Putin is just going to sit and wait till Ukraine strikes the Kremlin or Russian Military of Defense? It’s foolish and dangerous to think that way.”
Ukraine initiated a significant counteroffensive in June to regain control over regions that Russia took early in the war, but officials have declined to release information on its progress. Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged this counteroffensive effort from Ukraine in July and insisted his troops have been successful in their defense.
The Russian military in May captured at least two American Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected trucks withing their territory, according to photos confirmed by The New York Times. The military equipment was reportedly used by pro-Ukraine proxy forces.
Koffler warned that a counteroffensive push into Russian territory could escalate the conflict “into a large-scale war” and “may very well even spiral out of control, resulting in Russia using nuclear weapons.”
“Just because Ukraine gave us so called ‘assurances’ to the Pentagon, doesn’t mean it will happen that way — war is by definition, unpredictable,” Koffler told Fox News Digital. “Right now, the Biden Administration — by displaying leadership and not compelling Zelenskyy to negotiate a peace agreement — is playing with fire. It’s plain and simple. And it’s reckless.”