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Stoltenberg calls on NATO countries to lift restrictions on Ukraine’s strikes on military targets in Russia

NATO allies should reconsider their policy of not allowing Ukraine to use their weapons to strike at Russian territory, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Credit:
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Credit:
Stoltenberg calls on NATO countries to lift restrictions on Ukraine’s strikes on military targets in Russia

Jens Stoltenberg has called upon the allies supplying weapons to Ukraine to end their prohibition on using them to strike military targets in Russia.

Mr Stoltenberg’s clear, if unnamed, target was the policy maintained by Joe Biden, America’s president, of controlling what Ukraine can and cannot attack with American-supplied systems.

The NATO Secretary General said so during an interview with The Economist.

“It’s time for the allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have imposed on the use of their weapons provided to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.

He added that the issue has become particularly relevant now that the Russian army has intensified its shelling of Kharkiv, which is located near the Russian border.

“Denying Ukraine the ability to use these weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory makes their self-defense very difficult.”

Speaking about Ukraine’s defense during the Russian offensive on Kharkiv, Stoltenberg criticized EU countries for slow supplies of ammunition.

“The European allies promised one million artillery shells. We have not seen anything like that,” he said.

The secretary general recognizes the risk of escalation, but insists that providing weapons does not amount to a direct confrontation between NATO forces and Russia. He rejected the idea of involving NATO troops, saying: “we will not be part of this conflict.”

At the same time, Stoltenberg points out that the restriction on US long-range missiles against Russia gives Moscow an advantage: it can concentrate troops on the border, knowing that the Defense Forces will not hit them until they enter Ukrainian territory.

“We must remember what we are talking about. This is Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine. Ukrainians have the right to defend themselves. This includes strikes on targets on Russian territory,” the NATO chief said.

Debate rages on in the West

On May 22, House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, said that Ukraine should be allowed to fight as it sees fit. Prior to that, it became known that 13 members of the US Congress had called for allowing the Ukrainian army to use American weapons to strike at Russian territory. The letter to the head of the Pentagon was signed by both Democrats and Republicans.

”I think we need to allow Ukraine to prosecute the war in the way they see fit. They need to be able to fight back, and I think us trying to micromanage the effort there it’s not a good policy for us,” the speaker said.

On 15 May, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the US does not encourage strikes on Russian territory, but Ukraine should decide for itself. However, two days later, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin confirmed that Washington’s position on prohibiting the use of American weapons for strikes on Russia had not changed.

In addition, several Italian politicians have voiced their opposition against the idea.

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