Stoltenberg Urges NATO to Lift Restrictions on Ukraine's Use of Western Weapons

Launch of ATACMS / Open source illustrative photo
Launch of ATACMS / Open source illustrative photo

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged on May 24 that NATO members should consider lifting restrictions on Ukraine's use of Western-provided weapons to strike military targets in russia

Jens Stoltenberg stated that it is now time for allies to address this issue, writes The Economist.

"The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine," said Stoltenberg.

Read more: Strengthening the Ukrainian Army: The New US Aid Package May Include FrankenSAM and ATACMS

The Secretary General emphasized the urgency of this issue.

HIMARS, Defense Express
High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) / Photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense

"Denying Ukraine the ability to use these weapons against legitimate military targets on russian territory makes it very difficult to defend itself," Stoltenberg added.

The Secretary General noted that this is important right now, when much of the fighting is taking place in Kharkiv, not far from the border.

According to The Economist, the Americans have denied Ukraine weapons it urgently requested, only to relent many months later. The list included the HIMARS multiple rocket launch system, Abrams tanks, F-16 fighter jets and ATACMS, a tactical ballistic missile system.

The Secretary General recognized the risk of escalation, stating that the challenge is to prevent this war from becoming a full-fledged war between russia and NATO in Europe.

But he drew a distinction between the supply of weapons and training and military engagement. "We provide training, we provide weapons, ammunition to Ukraine, but we will not be directly involved from NATO territory in combat operations over or in Ukraine. So that’s a different thing."

HIMARS launching a GMLRS rocket
HIMARS launching a GMLRS rocket / Photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense

Stoltenberg also commented on the proposal to deploy troops in Ukraine if its government requests it, an idea advocated by French President Emmanuel Macron.

"We have no intention to send NATO ground troops to Ukraine, because our goal… was twofold: to support Ukraine as we do, but also to ensure that we don’t escalate this into a full scale conflict," he added.

Read more: ​New U.S. Military Aid Package Clearly Reflects How Washington Sees the Frontline Situation in Ukraine