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NATO: Ukraine’s defense hampered by limits on using Western arms against Russia

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a NATO Parliamentary assembly in Sofia on May 27, 2024. (AFP)

NATO says Ukraine’s Western allies are hampering its defense against Russia by restricting the use of Western arms and munitions to strike targets on Russian soil.

“If (Ukraine) cannot attack military targets on Russian territory then it ties one hand of the Ukrainians on their back and makes it very hard for them to conduct defense,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a meeting of NATO lawmakers in Bulgaria on Monday.

“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 border line is more or less the same.”

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Kiev has been begging its Western backers – the United States in particular – to gain permission to use the longer-range weaponry it has been supplied by Washington and its allies to strike targets inside Russia.

The Western alliance, however, has been reluctant to grant permission to use the weapons to strike targets on Russian territory out of fear of retaliation, anticipating that such escalations could drag NATO member states closer to direct conflict with Moscow.

“Self-defense includes the right to also attack legitimate military targets inside Russia,” the NATO chief said. “Some allies have lifted restrictions enabling the Ukrainians to better defend themselves.” Stoltenberg refrained from giving further details.

The Kremlin says Stoltenberg’s remarks are contradictory.

The Interfax news agency cited spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying NATO was already in direct confrontation with Russia and that the US-led military alliance was escalating the Ukraine war through military rhetoric.

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For months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pleading to the US-led Western allies to supply weapons and munitions to his country. He has been begging NATO to provide Kiev not only with more weaponry and money, but also combat units.

However, many US military officials and lawmakers have reached the conclusion that continued US military aid to Ukraine is to no avail as it will not prevent Kiev’s eventual defeat in its war against Russia.

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