NATO Chief Downplays Moscow’s Escalation Threat Over US Weapons Authorization

Fri May 31 2024
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PRAGUE, Czech Republic: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg downplayed the risk of escalation from Moscow after the United States authorized Ukraine to use American weapons to target sites within Russia.

US officials disclosed that President Joe Biden had secretly lifted restrictions, allowing Kyiv to defend the Kharkiv region with American-supplied arms. This decision followed mounting pressure on Biden from Ukraine, which has been struggling against Russian attacks originating from Russian territory.

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, threatened “serious consequences” if Western nations allowed Ukraine to attack Russian targets. Despite these threats, Stoltenberg asserted Ukraine’s right to self-defence, including striking legitimate military targets within Russia. He emphasized that allowing Western weapons to hit Russian targets was not unprecedented, noting that Britain had long provided cruise missiles to Kyiv without restrictions.

Stoltenberg accused President Putin of attempting to deter NATO allies from supporting Ukraine’s self-defence efforts. He reiterated that NATO’s support for Ukraine is within the bounds of self-defence and should not be seen as an escalation.

Pressure on Biden to shift his stance intensified after French President Emmanuel Macron advocated for Ukraine’s right to retaliate against Russian attacks. Germany has remained ambiguous, having refused to provide Ukraine with long-range Taurus missiles and emphasizing the importance of NATO not being drawn into the conflict.

Other NATO allies welcomed Biden’s decision. Czech foreign minister Jan Lipavsky and Lithuanian diplomat Gabrielius Landsbergis both expressed support, trusting Ukraine’s capability to identify necessary targets.

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