Anger in Moscow After Ukraine Allowed To Hit Russia With Western Weapons

4 min read

Russia has accused Nato and the US of “provoking a new level of tension” after the US and Germany became the latest allies to let Ukraine’s military use Western-supplied weapons to strike targets inside Russia.

A Berlin spokesman said Germany was convinced Ukraine had the right to defend itself from Russia, especially from cross-border attacks on its second largest city Kharkiv.

US officials said American-supplied weapons could be used to counter Russian fire near the Kharkiv region, either where Russian forces were “hitting them or preparing to hit them”.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the decision would help protect civilians living in villages close to the Russian border.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Nato countries, especially the US and several European countries, had “entered a new round of escalating tension and they are doing this deliberately”, in remarks quoted by the Tass news agency.

“They are in every possible way provoking Ukraine to continue this senseless war.”

Russian forces have made gains in the Kharkiv region in recent weeks after a surprise offensive in the area, close to the border with Russia.

The UK and France had already signalled they were open to easing restrictions on Ukraine striking military sites on Russian territory, before US President Joe Biden said on Thursday night that American-supplied weapons could be used.

However a US official told the BBC: “Our policy with respect to prohibiting the use of Army Tactical Missile System [ATACMS] or long-range strikes inside of Russia has not changed.”

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said on Friday that Berlin was “jointly convinced” that Ukraine had the right to defend itself from Russian attack.

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

Germany has not yet given Ukraine its powerful Taurus missiles, whereas the UK has provided Storm Shadow missiles and France has handed over its Scalp cruise missiles.

Russia claimed on Friday that it had pushed Ukrainian forces back by up to 9km (6 miles) from the border in the Kharkiv region, adding that it now controlled hills near the village of Lyptsi. Kharkiv is little more than 30km from the Russian border.

Map of Ukraine

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeated his message from earlier this week, that the US would continue doing what it had done until now, “which is, as necessary, adapt and adjust”.

He was speaking to reporters at a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Prague, where the alliance’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, welcomed the decision to ease restrictions on Ukraine’s use of weapons.


Questions have also been raised by Nato allies about the possibility of US-made F-16 warplanes being deployed across the Russian border.

Ukrainian pilots have been training on F-16s in recent months and the first planes are expected to reach Ukraine this summer.

Denmark’s Defence Minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, has said that its F-16s could be used to target weapons depots in Russia which he described as legitimate targets.

Denmark is due to hand over 19 F-16s to Ukraine over the summer and Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen made clear: “This is not a carte blanche for Ukraine to use the F-16 to make arbitrary attacks into Russia.”

On Friday Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen refused to confirm that Danish F-16s could be used over Russian territory. She said the planes were very close to flying over Ukraine, but “we are not going to go into further detail”.

The Netherlands has avoided making any clear declaration on F-16s. Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot merely confirmed that the Dutch government would “allow Ukraine to use arms on Russian soil if it’s in full self-defence”, in line with the United Nations charter.

Belgium’s Alexander De Croo ruled out allowing Ukraine to use its F-16s over Russia when he met President Zelensky earlier this week. Mr De Croo was meeting President Biden at the White House on Friday.

Russian officials have made clear their anger at the prospect of F-16s being used over their territory. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that F-16s would be destroyed just like anything else supplied by Nato, and would not change the situation at all.


However, as F-16s had long been used in Nato’s “so-called joint nuclear missions”, he warned that supplying them to Kyiv could only be seen “as a deliberate signal from Nato concerning nuclear weapons”.


You May Also Like