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Moscow reacts to NATO chief’s call for attacks deeper inside Russia

Jens Stoltenberg does not have authority to lobby for strikes with Western arms, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said

Recent calls by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to allow Ukraine to use Western-donated weapons for strikes deep inside Russian territory exceed his mandate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

The NATO chief has been urging the donors of longer-range weapons to allow attacks against targets located inside Russia. The arms were reportedly provided on the condition that they would not be used outside the area which Kiev claims as its own. The stipulation is intended to prevent further escalation of the conflict.

“The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions,” the secretary general told The Economist last week.

Some NATO member states have already “yanked Stoltenberg,” Lavrov told the media on Monday, referring to opposing remarks coming from the Italian government.

“I doubt that the secretary general can take it upon himself to speak on behalf of members of the bloc before this issue is discussed within NATO,” he added. “I believe he has stepped outside of his authority.”

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Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and deputy PM Matteo Salvini hold a press conference in Rome, November 3, 2023
Italy rebukes NATO call for more strikes on Russia

Senior Italian officials, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, have rejected Stoltenberg’s public calls for a policy change.

“I don’t know why Stoltenberg said such a thing, I think we have to be very careful,” the Italian leader told local media on Sunday. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said during an election rally on the same day that the NATO chief “cannot speak on behalf of the Italian people,” and urged him to “either ask for forgiveness, rectify his remarks or resign.”

Lavrov previously described the Western ban on long-range strikes as largely irrelevant in the context of the armed conflict.

“American weapons are already being used against various targets outside the combat zone,” he said last week. “We proceed from the fact that American and other Western weaponry strikes targets on the territory of Russia, primarily civilian infrastructure and residential areas.”

READ MORE: Blinken lobbying for strikes on Russia – NYT

Ukrainian officials have claimed that the limitations imposed by the West are responsible for Russia’s recent advances in Kharkov Region. US Secretary of State Antony Blineken is reportedly lobbying fellow members of the Biden administration with a view to lifting the prohibition applying to American weapons.

May 27, 2024 at 07:17PM

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