Western Allies Debate Kyiv's Right to Strike Russia

Ukraine has requested its allies to permit the use of Western-supplied arms to strike targets inside Russia, moving beyond pre-existing constraints. This request, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has met mixed responses from Western countries, highlighting a shift in rhetoric and strategic considerations amid ongoing tensions.

Reuters | Updated: 30-05-2024 13:19 IST | Created: 30-05-2024 13:19 IST
Western Allies Debate Kyiv's Right to Strike Russia
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Ukraine has urged its allies to allow Kyiv to use Western-supplied arms to conduct strikes inside Russia and abandon an official position some of them have held throughout Russia's 27-month-old full-scale invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told Reuters on May 20 that talks had taken place with Kyiv's allies about using their weapons to strike Russian military targets at the border and further inside Russia. He said the talks had yielded "nothing positive", but some partners have shifted their rhetoric on the matter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned NATO members on Tuesday that they were playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike targets inside Russia. Here's what Kyiv's partners have said:

THE UNITED STATES Then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley said last year: "I can say that we have asked the Ukrainians not to use U.S.-supplied equipment for direct attacks into Russia."

Asked about Washington's current stance on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it would "adapt and adjust". "I think what you've seen over the two plus years, as the nature of the battlefield has changed, as the locations, the means that Russia is employing changed, we've adapted and adjusted to that ... That's exactly what we'll do, going forward," he said.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington that U.S. support for Ukraine had evolved over the war. "But right now, there's also no change to our policy." NATO CHIEF

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged members of the alliance to lift restrictions on the use of their weapons to allow Ukraine to strike "legitimate military targets" inside Russia. "The time has come to consider whether it will be right to lift some of the restrictions which have been imposed because we see now that especially in the Kharkiv region, the front line and the borderline is more or less the same," said Stoltenberg, adding the decision was up to each country.

NATO itself, as an organisation, does not deliver arms to Ukraine. BRITAIN

During a visit to Kyiv on May 3, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron told Reuters that Ukraine could use the weapons provided by London to strike targets inside Russia, and that it was up to Kyiv whether to do so. "Ukraine has that right," he said. "Just as Russia is striking inside Ukraine, you can quite understand why Ukraine feels the need to make sure it's defending itself."

FRANCE AND GERMANY French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that Ukraine should be allowed to hit military sites inside Russia that Moscow was using to attack Ukraine.

"We think we should allow them to neutralise military sites from which missiles are fired, military sites from which Ukraine is attacked," he told a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. "(But) we shouldn't allow them to hit other targets in Russia and civilian or other military sites in Russia..."

Asked about the matter, Scholz said: "I find it strange when some people argue that (Ukraine) should not be allowed to defend itself and take measures that are suitable for this." ITALY

Italy will never send any troops to Ukraine and any weapons it has supplied to Kyiv should not be used on Russian territory, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani

said on Thursday. "All the weapons leaving from Italy (to Ukraine) should be used within Ukraine," Tajani said in a TV interview with public broadcaster RAI.

DENMARK Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen echoed Stoltenberg in comments to broadcaster TV2 on Tuesday.

"You are welcome to use what we have donated to Ukraine, also outside of Ukraine - that is, on Russian targets - if it is within international law," she said. "NATO's Secretary General was very clear on this issue... that it is within the rules when you wage war because it is Ukraine that is being attacked by Russia."

She did not, however, say whether this would apply to the F-16 fighter jets Ukraine is set to receive from Copenhagen. THE NETHERLANDS

In response to a request for comment, the Dutch Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that Ukraine should use donated weapons in line with international law. "Beyond this, The Netherlands does not impose legal limitations on the use of weapons supplied by The Netherlands above or on Russian soil," it said.

CZECHIA Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala told a briefing on Tuesday that statements on the matter by Stoltenberg and others were "absolutely logical".

"Ukraine is a country defending itself against Russian aggression ... and as an attacked country it certainly has all the rights to use all possibilities for its defence." THE BALTICS

Lithuania has been vocal about its support for Ukraine's right to strike targets inside Russia. "The way to react to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, and also in our countries, is... to allow Ukraine to use the weapons they already have, the way they need to use them," Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Monday.

"That is how you manage escalation... this is how you stop Russia." Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics also agreed with Stoltenberg, telling CNN on Monday: "I think there is no rational, pragmatic reason not to allow Ukraine to use those weapons against Russia in a way that is most efficient."

Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur called on X for Kyiv's allies to "increase training for Ukrainian fighters (and) allow Ukraine to strike military targets in Russia." (Compiled by Dan Peleschuk in Kyiv with additional reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen, Anthony Deutsch in Amsterdam, Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by Tom Balmforth and Ros Russell)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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