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Macron Urges Green Light for Ukraine to Strike Targets Inside Russia with Western Weapons

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has joined NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in advocating for a significant policy shift that could alter the dynamics of the war in Ukraine. The proposal would allow Kyiv to strike military bases inside Russia using sophisticated long-range weapons provided by Western allies.

The debate over permitting Ukraine to target Russian soil with Western-supplied weaponry has been contentious since Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. Western leaders have hesitated, fearing it could provoke Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has warned that direct Western involvement could escalate to nuclear conflict.

However, the tide of war has recently favored Russia, as Ukrainian forces face shortages in troops and ammunition, compounded by delays in U.S. military aid and slow European military production. Russian missiles have devastated Ukrainian military positions and civilian areas, including critical infrastructure.

Macron’s Position

During an official visit to Germany, Macron stated, “We think we must allow [Ukraine] to neutralize the [Russian] military sites from which the missiles are fired.” He argued that prohibiting Ukraine from targeting these sites effectively hampers their ability to defend themselves with the weapons supplied by the West.

Macron’s comments follow Stoltenberg’s call at a NATO meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, for lifting restrictions on Ukraine’s use of Western weapons. Stoltenberg emphasized that the right to self-defense includes striking legitimate targets outside Ukraine.

International Reactions and Concerns

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s recent remarks that Ukraine could use British long-range weapons to strike Russia have already been interpreted by Moscow as a threat. This, along with Macron’s stance, prompted Russia to conduct tactical nuclear weapons drills and warn of potential retaliatory strikes on British military facilities.

Macron clarified that only Russian bases launching attacks against Ukraine should be legitimate targets, not other Russian bases or civilian infrastructure. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, while supporting Ukraine’s right to self-defense, remained cautious about measures that might draw NATO into direct confrontation with Russia. Scholz’s spokesperson, Steffen Hebestreit, reiterated that Ukraine’s defense is not confined to its territory but did not disclose specifics of Germany’s weapons agreements with Ukraine.

US Stance and Continued Support

In Moldova, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken maintained that Washington has not authorized Kyiv to use American weapons for cross-border strikes. However, he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to providing Ukraine with necessary defensive equipment. “We haven’t encouraged or enabled strikes outside of Ukraine,” Blinken stated, emphasizing that Ukraine must determine its own defense strategies.

European Aid and the Current Military Situation

This week saw a significant influx of European military aid to Ukraine, with Belgium and Spain each pledging around €1 billion in support, and Sweden announcing its largest aid package to date, worth 13 billion kronor ($1.23 billion), including air defense systems and armored vehicles.

Ukrainian forces are currently under heavy pressure from Russian attacks in the northeastern Kharkiv region and the partially occupied eastern Donetsk region. Putin aims to establish a “buffer zone” in Kharkiv to prevent cross-border Ukrainian assaults, drawing Ukrainian forces away from Donetsk.

The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based think tank, reported that Russia’s offensive in Kharkiv has slowed, with the Kremlin’s forces now probing the front lines in Donetsk for vulnerabilities.

As the war continues, Western leaders grapple with the balance between supporting Ukraine and avoiding a broader conflict with Russia. The coming weeks will be critical in determining the direction of international military aid and strategic decisions in the ongoing conflict.




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Patrick Zarrelli

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