NATO FMs open the way for Ukraine’s freer use western weapons

Jens Stoltenberg @jensstoltenberg

In a significant meeting held in Prague today, NATO foreign ministers recommended intensifying overall support for Ukraine at the upcoming July summit of alliance leaders. They also urged individual countries to lift the current restrictions that hamper Kyiv’s use of Western-supplied weapons in its battle against the Russian invasion.

This comes a day after President Joe Biden approved Ukraine’s use of US munitions to strike inside Russia to defend Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, just 20 kilometres from the Russian border.

Today’s gathering in the Czech Republic capital, marked by a strong sense of unity, saw the Dutch, Finnish, Polish, and German foreign ministers endorsing the new approach. They maintained that Ukraine, in the face of attacks originating on Russian soil, has an absolute right to defend itself.

“This is a matter of upholding international law — Ukraine’s right to self-defence,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, declaring that this also included the right to attack “military legitimate targets inside Russia.” Attacks from Russian soil involving the use of artillery, missiles, and “massing” troops, he noted, are all the harder to defend against if Ukraine is “not allowed to use advanced weapons to repel” them.  

President Volodynyr Zelenskyy and Ukrainian officials have increasingly balked at the restrictions, claiming they place their forces in an untenable situation, citing, in particular, the intensified attacks by Russia around Kharkiv.

On its 75th anniversary, NATO holds its leadership summit in Washington in July.

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