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Borrell urges EU countries to approve Ukraine's strikes on Russia with Western weapons

Borrell urges EU countries to approve Ukraine's strikes on Russia with Western weapons Photo: Josep Borrell (Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

European Union Defense Ministers are discussing on May 28 whether to allow Ukraine to strike targets deep inside Russian territory with weapons sent by member states, Bloomberg reports.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said that such a step is acceptable from the point of view of international law, as Moscow's attacks on Ukraine are coming from the territory of Russia.

"The risk of escalation I’m sure will be put on the table by some but you have to balance the risk of escalation and the need for Ukraine to defend," he said, saying that the current situation is "completely asymmetric."

The Defense Ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and the Netherlands also expressed support for this idea.

In addition, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Ukraine's use of Western weapons against targets in Russia would not make NATO part of the conflict.

The NATO Secretary General stated that lifting restrictions was a national decision, not a NATO-wide one. He noted that some allies had not imposed the same arms restrictions as Ukraine, while others had. He expressed the belief that it was time to review these restrictions.

Until now, the United States and Germany have been particularly cautious about sending weapons to Ukraine that could hit targets inside Russia because of the risk of a wider conflict. After several months of requests from Ukraine, earlier this year the US sent Ukraine long-range ATACMS missiles for use in the occupied territory.

Need to lift ban on striking on Russia's territory with Western weapons

Ukraine is currently struggling to protect the Kharkiv region from Russian air attacks, given its proximity to the border. Kyiv's allies are stepping up efforts to send more air defense equipment to Ukraine, but targeting targets inside Russia where its attacks originate could help reduce the cost of defending Ukrainian cities with expensive missiles to counter Russia's use of cheap bombs.

A Russian strike on the Epicenter home improvement supermarket in Kharkiv on a busy shopping day on May 25 killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens. Two days earlier, a Russian missile hit Ukraine's largest publishing house, killing at least seven people. Both attacks were launched from Russia's Belgorod region.