What Ukraine’s allies say about striking Russia with Western weapons

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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 Zelenskyy 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.

For the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine war, visit our dedicated page.

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 US-supplied equipment for direct attacks into Russia.”

US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told a briefing on Tuesday that Washington was aware of Zelenskyy’s comments on the matter.

“I would tell you that there’s no change to our policy at this point. We don’t encourage or enable the use of US-supplied weapons to strike inside Russia.”

“We do not want this to escalate in any form,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters at a White House briefing.

NATO chief

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has urged members of the Western military 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 organization, 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 neutralize 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 this, Scholz said: “Ukraine has every possibility under international law for what it is doing. That has to be said explicitly.”

“I find it strange when some people argue that it should not be allowed to defend itself and take measures that are suitable for this.”

Denmark

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen echoed both Scholz and 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 a few hours ago, 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 which Ukraine is set to receive from Copenhagen over the summer.

The Netherlands

In response to a request for comment, the Dutch Defense 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 defense.”

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 support Ukraine, is to allow Ukraine to use the weapons that they already have, the way that they need 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 has also agreed with Stoltenberg, telling CNN on Monday that it was “a critical moment” for Ukraine: “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.”

A day later, Estonian Defense 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.”

Read more:

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

Putin warns West not to let Ukraine use its missiles to hit Russia

Ukraine to receive F-16s ‘very soon’ but much aid arriving late: Defense minister

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