Germany Allows Ukraine To Strike Targets Inside Russia With German Weapons

Germany Allows Ukraine To Strike Targets Inside Russia

The German government has given Ukraine permission to strike Russian territory with weapons provided by Berlin, a government spokesperson said Friday.

The announcement follows a similar move by the Biden administration, as reported by POLITICO, to allow Ukrainian forces to use U.S.-provided weapons to strike targets inside Russia near the city of Kharkiv in Ukraine’s east, which has been under sustained attack by Russian forces. That decision marked a reversal of U.S. policy, and it appears the German government has now followed suit.

“In recent weeks, Russia has prepared, coordinated and carried out attacks from positions in the Kharkiv area, in particular from the directly adjacent Russian border region,” German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said Friday.

Ukraine “has the right, guaranteed under international law, to defend itself against these attacks,” he added. “To do so, it can use the weapons supplied for this purpose in accordance with its international legal obligations, including those supplied by us.”

In recent days Chancellor Olaf Scholz had underscored Ukraine’s right to defend itself by striking targets inside Russia in accordance with international law, but had remained vague on whether Berlin had given Ukraine permission to use German-provided weapons to do so.

Scholz has so far refused to send Ukraine its long-range Taurus cruise missiles, which could be used to strike deep into Russian territory, arguing it could bring Germany into direct confrontation with Russia. But Germany has provided other weapons systems that could potentially be used to strike targets inside Russia near the city of Kharkiv, including self-propelled howitzers and Mars II rocket launchers.

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In recent weeks, leaders of NATO countries have debated whether to allow Ukraine to use Western weapons to strike military targets inside Russia. Ukrainian leaders have argued that restrictions on how they can use such arms have allowed the Russians to attack Ukraine from Russian territory with little threat of retaliation.

While the recent decision from Washington marks a reversal of policy, the Biden administration still refuses to allow Ukraine to use U.S. cruise missiles to strike deep into Russian territory, fearing such attacks could escalate the war.

Today’s German announcement follows a familiar pattern, in which Berlin waits for Washington to move first on military aid to Ukraine before following in lockstep. Last year’s decision to provide battle tanks to Kyiv followed the same dynamic.

German politicians across the political spectrum praised today’s announcement. The previous restrictions on using German weapons to hit targets inside Russia had “served Putin in his warfare,” Robin Wagener, a Greens member of the Bundestag, told POLITICO newsletter Brussels Decoded.

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