NATO chief dismisses Russian warnings of escalation after lifting of arms restrictions

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg

© APA | NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg

# 31 May 2024 14:49 (UTC +04:00)

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Friday dismissed warnings by Russian President Vladimir Putin that allowing Kyiv to use Western weapons for strikes inside Russian territory might lead to an escalation, APA reports citing Reuters.

Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Prague, Stoltenberg said the alliance had heard such warnings many times before.

"This is nothing new. It has been the case for a long time that every time NATO allies are providing support to Ukraine, President Putin is trying to threaten us to not do that," he told reporters.

"And an escalation – well, Russia has escalated by invading another country."

Putin on Tuesday warned NATO members against allowing Ukraine to fire their weapons into Russia and raised anew a risk of nuclear war after several allies lifted restrictions imposed on the use of weapons donated to Kyiv.

Stoltenberg said Ukraine had the right to strike legitimate military targets inside Russia, especially since the borderline and the frontline near Kharkiv were more or less the same, and it was not reasonable to assume Kyiv should not hit back.

"Of course it makes it very hard for Ukraine to defend themselves if they are not allowed to use advanced weapons to repel those attacks," he said.

"Ukraine has the right for self-defence, we have the right to help Ukraine uphold the right for self-defence, and that does not make NATO allies a party to the conflict," Stoltenberg added.

"That was the case back in February 2022, that was the case last year, that remains the case."

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