Ukraine can use German weapons to defend Kharkiv border region, Berlin says

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Germany said on Friday Ukraine could use weapons supplied by Berlin to defend itself against attacks launched from just inside Russia against Ukraine’s northern border region around the city of Kharkiv in accordance with international law.

Germany has discussed with its allies Russian strikes on the Kharkiv region from positions in the immediately adjacent Russian border area, a government spokesperson said.

“We are jointly convinced that Ukraine has the right, guaranteed under international law, to defend itself against these attacks,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

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“To do so, it can also use the weapons supplied for this purpose in accordance with its international legal obligations; including those supplied by us.”

The statement came after days of scrutiny of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government over whether it had changed its stance on allowing Kyiv to use German weapons to strike into Russian territory.

Speaking in Prague on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also spoke in favor of Ukraine using weapons provided by Western countries to strike legitimate military targets inside Russian territory.

German officials have declined publicly to divulge specifics on how it would like Ukraine to deploy Western-supplied weapons, wary of rhetoric that could ratchet up tensions at a time when Russia is threatening tactical nuclear strikes against Ukraine.

The majority of weapons already delivered to Ukraine by Germany are not suitable for attacks on Russian positions well behind the frontline. Self-propelled howitzers, for example, can engage targets at a distance of up to 56 kilometers (35 miles), but are not deployed in the immediate vicinity of the front.

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France, Britain and the United States have supplied Ukraine with weapons with greater target ranges.

Berlin’s statement came a day after US officials suggested President Joe Biden had quietly shifted policy to allow Kyiv to fire US-supplied weapons at targets inside Russia but only near the border with the Kharkiv region.

Previously Biden had steadfastly refused to let Ukraine use American weaponry for strikes inside Russia.

The calls to allow the use of Western weapons against missile launchers and other military sites inside Russia come as Moscow is claiming territorial gains in a cross-border offensive on the region surrounding Ukraine’s second biggest city.

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