U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference in Washington
U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price speaks during a news conference in Washington, U.S. March 10, 2022. Manuel Balce Ceneta/Pool via Reuters

The United States is not enabling or encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders, the State Department said on Tuesday, after Ukraine demonstrated an apparent new ability to penetrate hundreds of kilometers into Russian air space with attacks on air bases.

Moscow said attacks on Monday killed three of its servicemen and wounded four, as well as damaging two warplanes. On Tuesday, a third Russian airfield in Kursk, which lies closer to Ukraine, was set ablaze in another drone strike.

"We are not enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders. We are not encouraging Ukraine to strike beyond its borders," U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

He added, however, that there was no confirmation the strikes were carried out by Ukraine.

The government in Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility for the strikes, but nonetheless celebrated them.

Price said the United States has not provided Ukraine with weapons that are to be used within Russia.

"We have been very clear that these are defensive supplies," Price said.

In the strike on Tuesday, officials in the Russian city of Kursk, around 90 km (60 miles) north of the Ukraine border, released pictures of black smoke above an airfield. The governor said an oil storage tank had gone up in flames but there were no casualties.

The day before Russia said it had been hit hundreds of kilometers from Ukraine by what it said were Soviet-era drones - at Engels air base, home to Russia's strategic bomber fleet, and in Ryazan, a few hours' drive from Moscow.

It was not the first time Russia had accused Ukraine of using drones for attacks inside its borders since beginning its war against Ukraine in late February.

Russia responded with what it called a "massive strike on Ukraine's military control system", though it did not identify any specific military targets for what Ukraine called Moscow's latest strikes on civilian infrastructure.

Missiles across Ukraine destroyed homes and knocked out power, but the impact seemed less severe than barrages last month that pitched millions of Ukrainians into darkness and cold.

Washington's goal is to regularly convene allies from Europe and around the world to provide Ukraine assistance on its energy needs, Price said.

Moscow claims a military justification for attacks on Ukraine's civil infrastructure. Kyiv says the strikes are intended to hurt civilians, a war crime.