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Stoltenberg: Ukraine’s right of self-defense includes striking military targets inside Russia

Stoltenberg says Ukraine’s self-defense right covers striking legitimate Russian military targets, not making NATO allies parties to the conflict.
stoltenberg ukraine's right self-defense includes striking military targets inside russia nato secretary general jens x/twitter
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Jens Stoltenberg via X/Twitter
Stoltenberg: Ukraine’s right of self-defense includes striking military targets inside Russia

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has reiterated that Ukraine’s right of self-defense includes striking legitimate military targets inside Russia. His comments came before a meeting of EU foreign affairs and defense ministers in Brussels on 28 May, according to Ukrinform.

Earlier, Ukraine intensified its appeals to the Biden administration to lift the ban on using US-provided weapons to strike targets inside Russia. As Russia has launched a new offensive in Kharkiv Oblast from areas along the border and plans to re-invade Sumy Oblast, Kyiv wants the option to hit Russian forces stationed there with American arms like the HIMARS rocket systems.

Stoltenberg stated that as Russia has invaded Ukraine, the latter has the right under international law to defend itself. He said this right extends to hitting targets outside Ukraine’s borders, particularly relevant now with heavy fighting occurring in Kharkiv Oblast near the Russian border, where Russia had launched a new offensive from its territory on 10 May.

If Ukraine cannot hit those military targets, it will be much harder for them to defend themselves,” Stoltenberg said, referring to missile launchers, artillery, and airfields used to attack Ukraine from across the border.

The NATO chief noted that while some allies have restricted how Ukraine can use the weapons provided, others have not imposed such limitations. He believes the time has come to reconsider those restrictions, given the conflict’s proximity to the border.

These are national decisions. It’s not that NATO decides on restrictions. Some Allies have not imposed restrictions on the weapons they have delivered. Others have. I believe the time now has come to consider those restrictions, not least in light of the development in the war, which now is actually taking place along the border. And that makes it even harder for them to defend themselves,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO allies providing equipment to Ukraine does not make them parties to the conflict, as they are merely helping Ukraine uphold its right to self-defense. He said allies who haven’t imposed restrictions are not making NATO a conflict party either, as the weapons delivered to Ukraine become Ukrainian weapons.

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