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30 May, 2024 08:10

German leader makes U-turn on key Ukraine policy – Politico

The German chancellor’s spokesperson has stated that Ukraine’s “defensive action is not limited” to its own territory
German leader makes U-turn on key Ukraine policy – Politico

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz now supports Ukrainian strikes deep inside Russia, despite his earlier concerns about escalation with Moscow, Politico reported on Wednesday, citing sources.

Speaking alongside French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, the German leader said that “if Ukraine is attacked, it can defend itself” under international law. He also said he had no legal objections to Macron, who argued that the West “should allow [Kiev] to neutralize military sites… from where… Ukraine is attacked.”

The following day, the chancellor’s spokesperson, Steffen Hebestreit clarified that Germany believes that Kiev’s “defensive action is not limited to its own territory, but [can] also be expanded to the territory of the aggressor.” He declined to provide details on what agreements Berlin has reached with Kiev regarding the use of German-supplied weapons.

Germany has for months refused to send Ukraine its long-range Taurus missiles, with Scholz citing escalation concerns and explaining that the deliveries would only be “tenable” if Berlin could determine the targets itself, which would make it a direct participant in the hostilities.

The chancellor’s apparent reversal on the issue was confirmed by a Politico source close to the German government, who claimed that Scholz was “in favor of allowing the use of Western weapons against targets inside Russia.”

The development comes after several NATO countries voiced support for Ukrainian strikes deep inside Russian territory. This stance was also supported by military bloc's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who last week urged NATO members to “consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine.”

However, the US, Kiev’s key backer, has so far been reluctant to sign off on the policy change. At the same time, The New York Times reported last week that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was pushing the White House to allow Ukrainian strikes on Russian soil.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has warned that debates in the West about allowing Ukrainian strikes on Russian territory could trigger an escalation, adding that the Russian military was already preparing countermeasures for such a scenario. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stated that Western arms are already being actively used to target civilian infrastructure inside Russia.