Ukraine should be allowed to ‘neutralize’ Russian military bases: Macron

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Kyiv should be allowed to “neutralize” Russian military bases from where Moscow troops are firing missiles into Ukraine, France’s President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

“We think that we should allow them to neutralize military sites where missiles are fired, from where ... Ukraine is attacked,” said Macron.

He stressed however that “we should not allow them to touch other targets in Russia, and obviously civilian capacities.”

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His comments -- on a state visit to Germany, during a press conference alongside Chancellor Olaf Scholz -- come as calls grow to allow Ukraine to strike inside Russia using Western-supplied longer-range weapons.

But the issue has divided Kyiv’s allies.

Germany has been reluctant to permit Ukraine to strike over the border, fearing it could lead to a direct conflict with nuclear-armed Moscow.

The United States, Ukraine’s biggest supplier of military aid, has also taken a similar stance.

Macron’s more strident tone towards Russia has been a source of tension in his relationship with Scholz in recent times -- Berlin was taken aback by his refusal to rule out sending troops to Ukraine.

On Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin warned of “serious consequences” if Western countries allowed Ukraine to use their weapons to strike Russia.

The Kremlin has also gloated over the persisting differences in the West.

“We see that there is no consensus on this issue in the Western camp,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian daily Izvestia on Tuesday.

Zelenskyy has labelled the Western restrictions on the use of weapons as “unfair”, at a time Ukraine is struggling to hold back a Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region.

The Ukrainian leader has been on a whistlestop tour of several European capitals to rally Western support, and Macron announced Tuesday that Zelenskyy will attend a ceremony next week in France to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, were Allied troops’ first step to freeing western Europe from Nazi German occupation.

The president refused to be drawn on the possibility of France sending military instructors to Ukraine, after Ukraine’s top commander said discussions on the matter were ongoing.

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Following recent tensions, Macron and Scholz sought to present a united front at their joint press conference in Meseberg, outside Berlin, insisting they agreed on a range of issues.

There were however no new immediate announcements in terms of support for Ukraine.

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