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Talk of attacks on Russian soil won’t scare Moscow – Italian defense minister

Smaller NATO members are only irritating the Kremlin by encouraging such strikes, Guido Crosetto has warned

Countries that make public statements demanding that Western nations allow Ukraine to use their weapons for long-range strikes on Russian soil aren’t helping Kiev, and will only “irritate” Moscow, Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto has said.

Since late last month, nearly a dozen NATO member states – including the US, Germany, and France – have given Ukraine permission to use their weapons to strike targets behind Russia’s pre-conflict borders. Italy has not, with Crosetto stating last week that Italian arms “must be used for the defense of Ukraine… but they cannot be used on the territory of another country.”

This policy has been condemned by NATO’s hawkish Baltic members, with Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia all calling on the bloc to let go of any caveats to the use of its weapons. “From the beginning we have made the mistake of limiting the Ukrainians because it could be seen as an escalation,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said last week. “[Ukraine] must be able to strike Russian territory, supply lines, and military units.”

Speaking to Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper on Friday, Crosetto said that these proclamations are pointless.

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FILE PHOTO: Italy's Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani (L) and Defence Minister Guido Crosetto (R).
Italy rules out use of its weapons for long-range Ukrainian strikes on Russia

“It makes me smile a little that some who talk about this are representatives of countries that mostly send civilian and non-military aid,” he said. “Do these words have a positive impact on the outcome of the war? No. Do they promote peace? No. Do they scare the Russians? No. Do they irritate them? Yes.”

If Ukraine wants to conduct such attacks, “it would not exactly be favored in letting the Russians know” in advance, Crosetto added.

The minister also hit out at domestic critics for continually asking him to reiterate his stance on long-range strikes and on sending Italian troops to Ukraine.

“I have said it a thousand times: Italian weapons will not hit Russian territory. Should I make some drawings to make it clearer?” he told the newspaper. “As well as the controversy over sending soldiers to fight: who among us – me or Meloni or Tajani – has ever supported it?” he continued, referring to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
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“So what’s the point of saying ‘we won’t send soldiers, we’re against it!’? It would be like if I said ‘don’t worry, I will never let the speed limit be set at 40 km/h on the motorway’. People would rightly ask ‘who ever suggested that?’” 

Italy has given Ukraine €1.73 billion in military and economic aid, making Rome Kiev’s 13th-largest backer, according to figures compiled by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. When Italy’s contribution to Ukraine via EU institutions is taken into account, Rome becomes Kiev’s ninth-largest donor.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would consider arming the enemies of Western nations that give Ukraine the means to carry out strikes on Russian soil. “This is a recipe for very serious problems,” he warned.

June 07, 2024 at 08:40PM
RT

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