Attacks in Russia too: US signals arms return to Kiev

A two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers ends on Friday in Prague. The central topic of the talks was once again military aid to Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants long-term commitments from the alliance. Several states have already announced that they will support Kiev with new weapons. Just Thursday evening, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius promised Ukraine a new arms package worth 500 million euros.

The meeting will also discuss NATO’s stronger role in coordinating aid. The alliance was intended to take over much of the previous corporate work from the United States. According to diplomats, this is intended to prepare for a possible election victory of Donald Trump. But beyond the question of what consequences a President Trump would have in favor of Ukraine, America will be a dominant topic on Friday.

IMAGO/CTK Photo/Michal Kamaryt

NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg wants more commitments from the alliance

The Prague meeting has been overshadowed by a debate over whether Ukraine should be allowed to use weapons from the West against military targets in Russia. Ukraine has been demanding this for a long time and recently received support from the NATO Secretary General. On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron raised eyebrows with such a claim. Germany and the United States have always clearly rejected such a deployment, and are under pressure to lift restrictions on the arms they supply.

Words by Tarasil Blinken

The US is the most important arms supplier to Kiev – and that’s why the direction the Americans take is so important. In recent days there have been growing signs that the US is adjusting its demands. During a visit to Moldova, U.S. Secretary of State Blinken signaled that the U.S. may back away from its staunch opposition to Ukrainian attacks against targets on Russian soil.

Antony Blinken in Prague

Reuters/Peter David Josek

Blinken’s statements are currently being scrutinized particularly closely

Since the start of the war, the U.S. government has continually adjusted its support for Ukraine to changing conditions on the battlefield and “made necessary improvements,” he said there. “We will continue to do so in the future.” Blinken said Wednesday that the U.S. is listening, learning and constantly making new decisions about what Ukraine needs to ensure it can defend itself effectively. His comments drew a lot of interest at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Prague and the Kremlin on Thursday.

The U.S. has so far provided weapons to Ukraine so that it can liberate its occupied territories, but the U.S. government has not officially changed its stance on attacks on military targets in Russia. In the past few days, Blinken and other US government officials have gradually and openly adjusted their usual language on the topic. That’s why every – certainly well-chosen – half-sentence of the US Secretary of State on the matter is currently being torn apart.

Blinken: Ukraine must decide for itself

During a visit to Kiev a few days ago, he said that the US does not support or enable attacks outside of Ukraine, but that Ukraine must decide for itself how to defend itself. Repeatedly during his visit to Moldova Blinken added his new reports.

The New York Times reported a few days ago that Blinken — under the influence of his recent, sobering visit to Ukraine — is lobbying within the U.S. government to allow the country to use U.S. weapons against targets inside Russian territory. It is said that it wants to persuade US President Joe Biden to lift the restrictions. The Ministry of External Affairs did not want to deny or confirm the statement at the time.

Russia is targeting the city of Kharkiv near the border

The debate is gaining momentum now due to current developments on the front lines. More recently, the Russian military attacked Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, near the border with Russia.

Rescue operation after the attack near Kharkiv

Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

Russia intensifies attack on Kharkiv

On Thursday, Ukraine reported that Russia was building up its forces north of the Kharkiv region. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Chirsky said Moscow was sending additional brigades and brigades from other regions and military training areas to the region to reinforce its troops on two main offensive lines in the north of the region.

Attacks from Russia

Russia concentrates its forces primarily on the Russian side and conducts its attacks from these positions. Ukraine has so far primarily used its own missiles and drones to attack these military targets. So far, Western weapons have primarily targeted Russian positions in Moscow-occupied parts of Ukraine. According to Kiev, this significantly limits the operational capability of the Ukrainian military.

For example, the military says the requirement restricts the use of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, among other things. Ukraine is not allowed to shoot down Russian warplanes in Russian airspace, even if they launch rockets and glide bombs from there towards Ukraine.

Moscow has again warned the West

Germany and the US argue that this would avoid a further escalation of the conflict – or risk dragging NATO further into it. However, the NATO Secretary General and Eastern European Union defense ministers recently contradicted this. According to Stoltenberg, there are no risks of reckless escalation. NATO Secretary General said the use of weapons against military targets is under Ukraine’s right of self-defense.

However, the Kremlin on Thursday again issued a stern warning to the West not to allow its weapons to be used to attack Russia. “Of course, all this will inevitably have its consequences,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in Moscow. “That will ultimately be very damaging to the interests of countries that have chosen the path of escalating tensions.” Nuclear power has repeatedly threatened to use all means to protect its interests.

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