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Swedish minister on Kyiv striking Russian soil with Western arms: 'Ukraine has right to defend itself'

by Kateryna Hodunova and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 27, 2024 12:13 PM 2 min read
Swedish Defence Minister Pal Jonson addresses a press conference as a new support package for Ukraine is presented on Feb. 20, 2024, at the Berga Naval Base, part of the Swedish Armed Forces, located south of Stockholm. (Jonathan Nackstrand /AFP via Getty Images)
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Sweden has indicated support for Ukraine in striking targets on Russian territory with Western-made weapons, the Swedish media Hallandsposten reported on May 26, citing Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson.

U.S. officials, as well as German ones, have repeatedly said that they do not support or encourage Kyiv's strikes with the Western-supplied arms inside Russia.

The tide nonetheless appears to be shifting amid arguments that Washington's ban meant Ukraine was unable to attack Russian forces as they were building up before crossing the border into Kharkiv Oblast in early May.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was one of the latest high-profile Western leaders to call for an end to the ban.

"Ukraine has the right to defend itself through military actions aimed at the enemy's territory as long as the military actions comply with the laws of war," Jonson said in answer to Hallandsposten's question about the possible use of Swedish arms against Russian territory.

Jonson added that Sweden stands behind international law and Ukraine's right to defend itself.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in contrast, reiterated Rome's opposition to Ukraine using Western-provided weapons for targeting facilities inside Russia, according to AFP.

"I do not know why Stoltenberg said such a thing, I think we have to be very careful," Meloni told Italian television, referring to the latest Stoltenberg's statement.

"I agree that NATO must remain firm, not give the signal that it is giving in," Meloni added.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said earlier in May that Italy supplies Ukraine with weapons only for use within the country's borders. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini also opposed Stoltenberg's call.

President Volodymyr Zelensky urged on May 26 Ukraine's partners to allow Kyiv to use Western weapons to strike military targets in Russia.

"We see every point of concentration of Russian troops. We know all the areas where Russian missiles and combat aircraft are launched," Zelensky said in his evening address.

Some countries, such as the U.K., Lithuania, or Finland, have said they do not oppose Ukraine using their arms to strike inside Russian territory.

Sweden plans to allocate $7 billion in military aid to Ukraine between 2024-2026
“Sweden will increase the support, as the framework amounts to 75 billion Swedish krona in military support for the years 2024–2026, which is 25 billion Swedish krona ($2.3 billion) per year,” according to the statement.
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