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‘No reason’ to prevent Ukraine from attacking Russia – Latvian president

NATO should allow Kiev to use Western weapons to strike targets inside Russia, Edgars Rinkevics has said

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics has urged Western countries to lift restrictions on the use of weapons donated to Ukraine, saying there’s “no reason” to prevent Kiev from attacking Russia.

In an interview with CNN on Monday, Rinkevics claimed that Russian advances in Kharkov Region were “a consequence of our inability to provide Ukraine with weapons,” and restrictions prohibiting the use of Western arms to launch strikes deep into Russian territory. 

“There is no rational pragmatic reason not to allow Ukraine to use those weapons against Russia in a way that is the most efficient,” the Latvian president said.

The weapons were not provided directly by NATO or the EU but by member states, some of which supplied Kiev with arms on the condition that they would not be used to strike Russia, Rinkevics explained. The Latvian government does not attach any restrictions to weapons it provides to Kiev, he clarified.

“Those countries that have put restrictions [on the use of] their weapons should reconsider their decision,” he added.

His remarks come after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg last week urged Western donors of longer-range weapons to allow attacks against targets located inside Russia.

In an interview with The Economist, he said the “time has come” for the US-led military bloc’s allies to reconsider such restrictions.

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FILE PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Moscow reacts to NATO chief’s call for attacks deeper inside Russia

Stoltenberg’s comments were met with harsh criticism from some NATO member states. Senior Italian officials, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, rejected his public calls for a policy change. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini described the NATO chief as a “dangerous gentleman” following his proposal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday that Stoltenberg did not have the authority to speak on behalf of the bloc members before this issue was discussed within NATO.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted that Kiev could strike targets in Russia with Western weapons.

“We have not encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine, but ultimately Ukraine has to make decisions for itself about how it’s going to conduct this war,” Blinken said during what he called a “sobering” visit to Kiev.

Ukraine’s Vladimir Zelensky has called for increased NATO involvement in the conflict and has argued that the West should not fear Russia’s reaction. Moscow believes that Zelensky’s goal is to trigger an escalation of the conflict in order to maintain his position.

May 28, 2024 at 06:05PM

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