NATO chief wants to free Ukraine to strike hard inside Russia

    WORLD  25 May 2024 - 12:40

    In an interview with The Economist on May 24, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on the allies supplying weapons to Ukraine to end their prohibition on using them to strike military targets in Russia.

    The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine,” said Mr Stoltenberg. “Especially now when a lot of the fighting is going on in Kharkiv, close to the border, to deny Ukraine the possibility of using these weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory makes it very hard for them to defend themselves.”

    It has long been a source of frustration for Ukrainians that if they want to go after targets on Russian soil they must depend on home-produced drones, which have only limited utility. Their anger has been boiling over since May 10, when the Russians began a big offensive across the border only 20 miles (32km) from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-biggest city. It had been subject to pulverising aerial bombardment for several months before. 

    Mr Stoltenberg acknowledged the risk of escalation. The task, he said, is “to prevent this war becoming a full-fledged war between Russia and NATO in Europe.” But he drew a distinction between the supply of weapons and training and military engagement. “We provide training, we provide weapons, ammunition to Ukraine, but we will not be directly involved from NATO territory in combat operations over or in Ukraine. So that’s a different thing.” Mr Stoltenberg drew a similar line on the suggestion of stationing troops in Ukraine if its government requested them, an idea championed by Emmanuel Macron, France’s president. “That’s not the plan…We don’t have any intention to send NATO ground troops into Ukraine because our purpose…has been two-fold, to support Ukraine as we do, but also to ensure that we don’t escalate this into a full scale conflict.”

    There are now signs America may be moving towards allowing Ukraine more leeway in its targeting. After visiting Kyiv last week, Antony Blinken, America’s secretary of state, is reported to have made the case in Washington for allowing Ukraine to hit military bases and missile batteries a few miles inside Russia. These are being used to pummel Kharkiv and the troops defending it.

    “We need to remember what this is,” Mr Stoltenberg said passionately. “This is a war of aggression by Russia against Ukraine. Ukraine has the right to defend themselves. And that includes striking targets on Russian territory.”

    Caliber.Az

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