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27 May, 2024 13:47

Moscow reacts to NATO chief’s call for attacks deeper inside Russia

Jens Stoltenberg does not have authority to lobby for strikes with Western arms, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said
Moscow reacts to NATO chief’s call for attacks deeper inside Russia

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has exceeded his mandate by calling for Ukraine to be allowed use Western-donated weapons for strikes deep inside Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

The NATO chief has been urging western donors of longer-range weapons to allow attacks against targets located inside Russia. The arms were reportedly provided on the condition that they would not be used outside Russian territory that is claimed by Kiev. The stipulation is intended to prevent further escalation of the conflict.

“The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions,” the secretary general told The Economist last week.

Some NATO member states have already “yanked Stoltenberg,” Lavrov told the media on Monday, referring to opposing remarks coming from the Italian government.

“I doubt that the secretary general can take it upon himself to speak on behalf of members of the bloc before this issue is discussed within NATO,” he added. “I believe he has stepped outside of his authority.”

Senior Italian officials, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, have rejected Stoltenberg’s public calls for a policy change.

“I don’t know why Stoltenberg said such a thing, I think we have to be very careful,” the Italian leader told local media on Sunday. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said during an election rally on the same day that the NATO chief “cannot speak on behalf of the Italian people,” and urged him to “either ask for forgiveness, rectify his remarks or resign.”

Lavrov previously described the Western ban on long-range strikes as largely irrelevant in the context of the armed conflict.

“American weapons are already being used against various targets outside the combat zone,” he said last week. “We proceed from the fact that American and other Western weaponry strikes targets on the territory of Russia, primarily civilian infrastructure and residential areas.”

Ukrainian officials have claimed that the limitations imposed by the West are responsible for Russia’s recent advances in Kharkov Region. US Secretary of State Antony Blineken is reportedly lobbying fellow members of the Biden administration with a view to lifting the prohibition applying to American weapons.

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