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26 May, 2024 23:35

Italy rebukes NATO call for more strikes on Russia

The head of the US-led military bloc should clarify his remarks or resign, deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said
Italy rebukes NATO call for more strikes on Russia

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and other top officials have accused NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg of escalating tensions with Moscow over comments he made on use of Western arms by Kiev.

Stoltenberg claimed last week that the “time has come” for members of the US-led military bloc to reconsider their policies and let Ukraine use Western weapons to launch strikes deep into Russian territory.

“I don’t know why Stoltenberg said such a thing, I think we have to be very careful,” Meloni told Italy’s Rai 3 TV channel on Sunday. The Italian prime minister stressed that “NATO must remain firm, not give the signal that it is giving in,” but advised “greater caution.”

“There are many questionable statements,” Meloni added, recalling how she rebuked French President Emmanuel Macron over his remarks on potentially sending troops to Ukraine.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini told an election rally on Sunday that Stoltenberg “cannot speak on behalf of the Italian people.”

“NATO cannot force us to kill in Russia, nor can anyone force us to send Italian soldiers to fight or die in Ukraine,” Salvini said, arguing that Rome is sending Kiev weapons only to “defend itself,” not to “fight, strike and kill outside its territory.”

“This gentleman should either ask for forgiveness, rectify his remarks or resign,” Salvini added.

Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani also insisted that the weaponry Italy sends to Kiev must only “be used inside Ukraine.”

The NATO chief’s comments come at a time when Western leaders are making increasingly bold statements about attacks on Russian territory. However, according to Moscow, the claims of existing restrictions on the use of US munitions are false and designed to maintain the illusion that the West is not part of the conflict. 

“We proceed from the fact that American and other Western weaponry strikes targets on the territory of Russia, primarily civilian infrastructure and residential areas,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Friday, noting that that US weapons, such as ATACMS missiles armed with cluster warheads, have already been used on attacks inside Russia, including strikes against civilian targets.