I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”

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Today's read: 11 minutes.

The U.S. has adopted a new weapons policy in Ukraine. Plus, a reader question about talking to family members who get their information from shoddy news sources.

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  • On Friday, we did a special edition to cover Donald Trump's guilty verdict. You can read it here.
  • On Sunday, we published a podcast with Ari and me that was recorded on Thursday. In it, you can hear my very incorrect predictions about the Donald Trump trial.
  • My interview with Haviv Gur has gotten almost 20,000 views on YouTube. You can watch it here.

Quick hits.

  1. Mexico’s Claudia Sheinbaum won a landslide victory to become Mexico’s first female president. (The victory
  2. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announced he is leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent ahead of his retirement from the Senate, causing speculation he may be planning a late entry to West Virginia's gubernatorial race. (The announcement)
  3. Joint British-U.S. airstrikes targeting Yemen's Houthi rebels killed at least 16 people and wounded 42 others. (The strikes)
  4. Jury selection begins today in Hunter Biden’s federal gun trial. Biden faces three felony charges for an alleged illegal purchase and possession of a firearm in 2018 while he was a habitual drug user. (The trial
  5. Dr. Anthony Fauci will testify before a House committee today on his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. (The hearing)

Today's topic.

Biden’s new rules for Ukraine. On Thursday, Politico reported that the Biden administration had permitted Ukraine to use U.S. weapons to carry out strikes inside Russia, though only near the area of Kharkiv. The significant shift in U.S. policy on the Ukraine-Russia war comes after the start of Russia’s surprise offensive in the Kharkiv province in early May. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, is 19 miles from the Russian border. The decision also marks the first time an American president has allowed U.S. weapons to be used against targets inside the borders of a nuclear-armed adversary, according to The New York Times.

The new guidelines allow Ukraine to use U.S. weapons to shoot at Russian missiles heading toward Kharkiv, bombs launched toward Ukrainian territory, and troops massing near the city. The U.S. already permits Ukraine to use U.S. anti-aircraft weapons to target Russian aircraft flying in Ukrainian and Russian airspace, but not to target civilian infrastructure or military targets deep inside Russia. Biden administration officials also said the new rules do not change the U.S.’s opposition to Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian petroleum facilities.

On Friday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed the decision came at Ukraine’s request. “Over the past few weeks, Ukraine came to us and asked for the authorization to use weapons that were provided to defend against this aggression… including against Russian forces that are massing on the Russian side of the border,” Blinken said.

The policy change follows similar moves by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to allow Ukraine to use their long-range missile systems on targets in Russia. Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, had privately urged the U.S. to take the same position. In the weeks leading up to Biden’s decision, Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff C.Q. Brown also recommended the policy change, noting the prior U.S. restrictions were preventing Ukraine from striking staging areas from which Russia was launching its attacks on Kharkiv. 

Russia has made advances in recent months as aid to Ukraine from the U.S. and Western European allies has slowed. The offensive in Kharkiv began in May, and within weeks, thousands of Russian soldiers pushed through the city’s border, forcing Ukraine to move troops from other areas to defend its position. Russia’s gains underscore the growing problems Ukraine is contending with in its war effort — depleted manpower, artillery shortages, minimal air defenses, and inadequate defensive fortifications. To counter these changes, NATO allies are considering sending troops to train Ukrainian forces, in addition to the relaxed restrictions on how their weaponry can be used.

In response to Biden’s policy shift, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said NATO members had “entered a new round of escalating tension” and "are in every possible way provoking Ukraine to continue this senseless war." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, meanwhile, criticized the delay in the policy shift, saying the U.S. needs to “believe in us more” and pushing for additional permission to use long-range weapons. “We have to respond. [Russians] don’t understand anything but force. We are not the first and not the last target,” he said.

Today, we’re going to look at reactions to Biden’s decision from the left and right, then my take. 

What the left is saying.

  • The left is mixed on the move, with many arguing Biden should ease restrictions even further on how Ukraine can use U.S. weapons.
  • Some criticize Biden for responding to threats in the war too slowly.
  • Others say the U.S. should be prioritizing a peace plan over escalation.

The Washington Post editorial board wrote “Ukraine should have permission to use U.S. military assistance to hit military targets inside Russian borders.”

“President Biden has finally agreed to Ukraine’s request to use U.S.-supplied weaponry to strike selected military targets inside Russia’s borders. Good: Ukraine should be able to use U.S. weapons to suppress devastating standoff attacks on its territory. But Mr. Biden’s assent was also limited, in both how and when American weapons can be used. From here, the president must walk a narrow path. He should be willing to expand Ukraine’s options if the country asks for more leeway, for example on where Ukraine can strike. Yet, he should not fully discard his caution, lifting all conditions on U.S. military aid, lest he risk sparking a wider war.”

“Biden’s approval applies to military targets inside Russia that are being used to threaten Kharkiv and northeastern Ukraine. It may be that Ukraine will need the same tactic elsewhere, and it should be given the leeway with similar constraints. Such moves are calculated risks. But they are well worth taking to help Ukraine defeat cross-border aggression, maintain hard-won national sovereignty and stake out a future as a prosperous democracy.”

In Bloomberg, Andreas Kluth suggested “Biden is reacting, not leading, on Ukraine.”

“By finally allowing the Ukrainians to use American ordnance to shoot back at nearby enemy targets just inside Russia, the US president has made a sensible foreign policy change, but haltingly and on the down low, after prolonged pleading and urging by American allies, and after dithering and delay that have cost many lives,” Kluth said. “Framing national security as a simple dichotomy between weak and strong — as Republicans try to do in attacking Biden — is primitive. But Biden does increasingly give the appearance of being driven by events rather than driving them.”

“The Ukrainians obviously need to return fire and take out the enemy launchers and airplanes. But Biden has so far prohibited them from using American missiles and munitions to shoot into Russia,” Kluth wrote. “Cynically but by all appearances effectively, Putin has stoked Biden’s anxieties by repeatedly threatening to use nuclear weapons if cornered. That has created a bad pattern. Again and again, the Ukrainians ask for weapons — missiles, battle tanks, fighter jets — but Biden demurs… Eventually Biden also yields. But by this time he follows, rather than leading.”

In CounterPunch, Ron Jacobs said Ukraine is “still not the good war.”

“In what is certainly an escalation of the war, the United States just gave Kyiv’s military permission to use US weapons to attack inside Russia. This can only mean a rise in civilian deaths, intentionally and otherwise,” Jacobs wrote. “The US media continues its despicable yet familiar role of promoting the conflict, repeating the same lies it told to provoke it in the first place. The fact that pro-war liberals and their allies continue to play the Russian bogeyman card in their attempts to keep the armed conflict going seems to prove they don’t want an end to the conflict or a resolution of the issues underlying it.”

“Like Israel, the current government in Kyiv would probably not exist without Washington’s billions and fanatic support. Although the specifics of each of these client relationships are different, the essential fact of the relationships between Washington and both states is that Israel and Ukraine serve US interests in the regions they exist in,” Jacobs said. “Now that Biden has given permission for the Ukrainian military to use US provided weapons inside Russia’s borders, it’s reasonable to assume the bloodshed caused by those weapons will only increase.”

What the right is saying.

  • The right says the move is too little, too late.
  • Some suggest the limits on how Ukraine can use U.S. weapons will leave it more vulnerable to Russian attacks.
  • Others call Biden’s decision an imprudent escalation of the war.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board criticized “more Biden half measures for Ukraine.”

“The Ukrainians have been on the brink since Vladimir Putin opened a new front in the country’s north this spring, and the Biden Administration is now responding late and with more half measures. That sums up two years of the Biden doctrine, and it won’t produce the Ukrainian success that is in U.S. interests,” the board said. “The Administration is leaking to the press that Ukraine will now be able to strike targets in Russia. But wait: Ukraine will only be permitted to conduct some strikes with some types of weapons. Not allowed: Deep precision strikes with America’s long-range missiles.”

“In other words, memo to Mr. Putin: Move your forces a little further back and you’re good. This timidity and micromanagement from the Biden Administration is the core reason the fight has devolved into a muddle. Mr. Biden’s advisers have run the Ukraine war on academic theories of managing escalation instead of a plan for defeating Russia’s invasion,” the board wrote. “This failing strategy has left many Americans skeptical of supporting America’s core interests in a stable and peaceful Europe.”

In The New York Post, Philip Breedlove and Debra Cagan argued the move “is far from enough.”

“This war is now 10 years old; this move should have been made years ago. We would never have asked a US or NATO combat mission to fight a war so severely limited by US and Western policy,” Breedlove and Cagan said. “As Russia continued to bomb the most obvious of civilian targets, the call for permitting Ukraine to use US-provided longer-range weapons to hit the Russians in the sanctuary provided by US policy has grown to a crescendo. Perhaps motivated to finally move now, lest this become a focus of the rapidly approaching NATO summit in Washington, President Biden has selected the most limited of options available. Arguably, this one will potentially be the most dangerous for Ukrainian forces.”

“In order to operate under these very restrictive limitations Ukraine will have to move forward in the battle space, exposing its much-needed Multiple Launch Rocket Systems to Russian counter-battery fire. The administration has also extensively limited the types of targets it will allow Ukraine to strike, including only massed Russian troops on the border and those weapons systems that are attacking or preparing to attack Ukraine,” Breedlove and Cagan wrote. “The most dangerous part: the combination of restrictions on general deployment location, and the limited range, which could result in the perfect target set for Russia.”

In The American Conservative, Mason Letteau Stallings said Biden’s decision offers “little strategic benefit to Ukraine and none to America.”

“The Biden administration is constrained to prevent Ukraine from collapsing while not escalating the conflict to the point where Russia might drastically react… [the] predicament is aggravated by the declaration that peace terms are solely for the Ukrainians to decide, especially now that the stated Ukrainian war aims, such as the expulsion of Russia from Ukraine’s pre-2014 borders, seem more and more far-fetched,” Stallings wrote. “While the permission given by the Biden administration is on paper ‘limited’ to strikes on military targets in the parts of Russia near Ukraine’s Kharkov Oblast—presumably Russia’s Belgorod and Kursk Oblasts—it is unclear how these limits will be enforced.”

“Indeed, the recent Russian operations near Kharkov, which the Biden administration are using as an excuse for allowing strikes, have been explained by the Russians as a response to Ukrainian strikes on residential neighborhoods in Belgorod, including a recent Ukrainian kamikaze drone attack that killed a mother and infant in a car. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia has ‘no such plans’ to take Kharkov, and instead that Russia solely intends to create a ‘buffer zone’ along the Russo–Ukrainian border.”

My take.

Reminder: "My take" is a section where I give myself space to share my own personal opinion. If you have feedback, criticism, or compliments, don't unsubscribe. Write in by replying to this email, or leave a comment.

  • I put myself in the camp of people who want to do more to support Ukraine in this war.
  • That doesn’t mean there’s no risk that this change will prolong and escalate the war, just that I think the trends indicate it probably won’t.
  • If anything, this is further proof that there’s more we should have done sooner.

The general contours of the two sides of this debate are pretty easy to summarize: One side thinks Ukraine should have a right to respond to Russia's invasion by attacking Russian forces on their own soil, and the other side thinks Ukraine using U.S.-supplied weapons inside Russia risks a prolonged (and potentially escalated) war. Prominent conservatives and liberals are arguing on both sides of this debate.

If I had to put myself in one camp or another, I’d say I'm much more aligned with the people arguing that Ukraine should have a right to use U.S. weapons in whatever way it sees fit. Remember: Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia started this war. Russia is destroying civilian infrastructure, killing Ukrainian civilians, attempting to topple Kyiv, and hoping to forcefully take control of a nation of 40 million citizens. A few years ago, Russia had a tense but stable relationship with Ukraine. Then it launched an all-out, full-scale invasion that has turned into dragged-out trench warfare. They didn’t launch that attack because of NATO encroachment or U.S. military expansionism or Ukrainian Nazis; they are fighting it because Putin believes Russia has a historical claim to Ukraine. I see no reason why Ukraine shouldn't be able to exercise maximum resistance to this existential threat.

That being said, just because I'm more in that camp doesn't mean I have no concerns. Like many of the writers above, I fear what crossing this line implies. Right now, the U.S has given limited permission, telling Ukraine it can only conduct certain kinds of strikes in certain areas close to the border. But now that this Pandora's box is opened, how long will it be until these weapons are used on targets deeper inside Russia? And what happens then?

These are serious questions, but here’s why I don’t think those hypotheticals would have apocalyptic results: At every stage in this war, the U.S. support for Ukraine has been halting and doubtful. We've fretted over "the madman" Vladimir Putin and what he'd do if we sent over this jet or that missile defense system, or if we visited this area of Ukraine. And in the end, none of it has really mattered. Putin hasn't tried to bomb a NATO ally because we supplied certain fighter jets or missile systems. He has, basically, bluffed over and over, then continued a devastating onslaught focused on certain areas of Ukraine.

Even now, headlines like "Biden secretly gave Ukraine permission to strike inside Russia with US weapons," are technically correct, but overly dramatic. These are the details:

“The president recently directed his team to ensure that Ukraine is able to use U.S. weapons for counter-fire purposes in Kharkiv so Ukraine can hit back at Russian forces hitting them or preparing to hit them,” one of the U.S. officials said, adding that the policy of not allowing long-range strikes inside Russia ‘has not changed.’”

I don't think this new policy change is all that major, and I don't think it is going to meaningfully change the conflict or invite World War III. Putin is pushing farther and farther into Ukraine, squeezing the country, forcing millions to flee, killing thousands, and continuing to destroy neighborhoods. The idea that Ukraine can't fire across its own borders was always nonsensical and has considerably hampered its defenses in this war.

So, yes, I share the fears about a prolonged or wider conflict. But if anything, over time, my position has increasingly become that we should have given fuller, more robust, less fearful support to Ukraine much earlier, which probably would have reduced the odds of a protracted war like the one we are witnessing now. 

I sincerely doubt that this policy shift is going to meaningfully raise the threat of this war spreading, and if it “prolongs” it  then that means Ukraine can hold off Russia longer, which I support. At the end of the day, I don't think Ukraine should have been so limited in the first place. Even while I hope for an end to the war, I don't think Ukraine should be handicapped in how it can defend itself in the one that it’s already fighting.

Take the survey: What do you think of Biden’s policy shift? Let us know!

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Your questions, answered.

Q: I've gotten a few links from relatives to some sketchy articles saying that the Antisemitism Awareness Act somehow makes the New Testament illegal. These articles even claim to have heard this from large organizations such as the Roman Catholic Church. I don't believe any of that for a second, but my question is, how do I respond to such relatives to try and convince them that they're reading conspiratorial trash? Thanks!

— Brian from Texas

Tangle: When I first started reading this question, I thought it was going to go another way — so thanks for the relief of sanity! And thanks for this really good question.

I get some version of this question a lot: “How do I talk to someone who disagrees with me?” But this is one of the hardest versions of that question — how do I talk to people I know who are getting news from terrible sources? How can I convince them not to trust those outlets?

First, as hard as it is, don’t start out with the goal to persuade. They’ll get defensive, and you’ll get frustrated. Just have the goal of wanting to be heard.

The next step is to react before you actually respond. I usually will write out my first reaction and allow myself to be emotional. Then, after I’ve expressed the things that I wanted to express, I revise what I wrote to be sure to communicate the thoughts I want to communicate. So after being frustrated about hearing people say “the Antisemitism Awareness Act will make the Bible illegal,” it’s time to try to communicate.

The best way to be heard is to make sure the other person knows they’re heard, too. So I’d say start with questions. “Who is saying that, and why?” “What are they basing that claim on?” I know a lot of professional reactors are echoing this claim based on a line from this law defining “saying that Jews killed Jesus” as an example of antisemitic speech punishable by legal action. Therefore, according to the outrage machine, an interpretation of the gospel that Jews killed Jesus would therefore make the scriptures illegal.

Before starting in on disagreeing, I would open up with some commiseration. Personally, I’d start by saying that I’m also a very strong free speech supporter, and that this law worried me a good bit when I first heard about it. Then, I’d share things that I learned. For example, a few weeks ago we had civil rights attorney Amanda Berman on the Sunday Podcast, and she explained how this law just provides a definition of antisemitism that schools can use to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. It does not ban any statements, and it does not supersede the First Amendment. 

If they’re open to hearing that, remind them that this law was passed by Congress, and that a similar text had already unanimously passed the Senate years ago. And then remind them that many members of Congress are deeply religious Christians and Catholics. Of course, you can also remind them that there are people out there who profit on their outrage, people who only care about getting you to share and click on their articles. And then — obviously — it’s time for the hard sell: If they’re interested in hearing news that gives them different perspectives about an issue, let them know where to find us.

Want to have a question answered in the newsletter? You can reply to this email (it goes straight to my inbox) or fill out this form.

Under the radar.

A new poll from Morning Consult found that 54% of voters approve of the guilty verdict in Trump's so-called "hush money case," and that 49% of independents and 15% of Republicans think he should drop his bid for the White House. Similarly, an ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 50% of Americans agreed with the verdict and 49% think he should end his 2024 presidential campaign over the result. Separately, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 10% of Republicans and 25% of independents say they are now less likely to vote for Trump. The Morning Consult poll is here, the ABC News/Ipsos poll is here, and the Reuters/Ipsos poll is here.


  • 1,320,000. The estimated number of active Russian soldiers as of 2024, according to Statista.
  • 900,000. The estimated number of active Ukrainian soldiers as of 2024. 
  • 360. The approximate number of artillery systems delivered to Ukraine from the U.S. since Russia’s invasion as of February 2024. 
  • 5,889. Russia’s estimated inventory of nuclear warheads.
  • 38%. The percentage of U.S. adults who believe the Ukraine-Russia war will last at least the next two years and beyond, according to a February 2024 poll from the Quincy Institute/Harris.
  • 12%. The percentage of U.S. adults who believe the war will end in total military victory for Ukraine. 
  • 11%. The percentage of U.S. adults who believe the war will end in total military victory for Russia.
  • 69%. The percentage of U.S. adults who support the U.S. urging Ukraine to engage in diplomatic negotiations with Russia and the U.S. to end the war as soon as possible.

The extras.

  • One year ago today we had just written about RFK Jr.’s presidential campaign.
  • The most clicked link in Friday’s newsletter was the AI chatbot obsessed with the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Nothing to do with politics: The NYSE error that made some stocks dip by 99% this morning.
  • Friday’s survey: A record 2,383 readers answered our survey on Donald Trump’s guilty verdict with 39% finding it a just outcome. “To me, this is like Al Capone being convicted of tax evasion. It's far from the worst thing he's done, but at least he's being held accountable for SOMETHING. Falsifying business records is still a crime, even if it's usually a misdemeanor, and I'm fine with him facing some consequences for that,.” one respondent said.

Have a nice day.

An HIV vaccine candidate developed at Duke University achieved a promising benchmark by triggering low levels of broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies among a small group of people. The finding not only provides proof that a vaccine can elicit these antibodies to fight diverse strains of HIV, but also shows that it can provoke an essential immune response within weeks. "Our next steps are to induce more potent neutralizing antibodies against other sites on HIV to prevent virus escape. We are not there yet, but the way forward is now much clearer,” said senior author Barton F. Haynes, M.D., director of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Science Daily has the story.

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