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Lithuanian FM: Ukraine 'must be allowed' to strike Russian territory with Western arms

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 21, 2024 8:53 AM 2 min read
Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis talks to media prior to an EU Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting on May 22, 2023, in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Ukraine must be allowed to use Western-supplied weapons to strike targets inside Russian territory, Lithuania's foreign minister said on May 20.

In an interview with French TV station LCI, Gabrielius Landsbergis said restrictions such as those imposed by the U.S. on using long-range ATACMS missiles inside Russia were a "mistake."

"From the beginning, we have made the mistake of limiting the Ukrainians because it could be seen as an escalation," Landsbergis said.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said that they do not support or encourage Kyiv's strikes with American weapons deep inside Russia, while Ukrainian officials are reportedly trying to convince Washington to lift this ban.

Landsbergis said such decisions were "dominated by fear of Russia" and worries about escalating the conflict beyond Ukraine's borders.

"The Ukrainians must be allowed to use the equipment provided to them so that they can achieve strategic objectives," he said.

"They must be able to strike Russian territory, supply lines, and military units preparing to attack Ukraine.

"Only one side has rules imposed on it. We must abandon these rules that we created."

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Ukraine recently said that the Washington ban meant Ukraine was unable to attack Russian forces as they were building up before crossing the border into Kharkiv Oblast.

"The main problem right now is the White House policy to limit our capability" to strike military targets inside Russia, David Arakhamia, the parliamentary leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky's party, the Servant of the People, said last week.

"We saw their military sitting one or two kilometers from the border inside Russia, and there was nothing we could do about that," Oleksandra Ustinova, the head of the Ukraine's parliamentary commission on arms and ammunition, told Politico.

In an interview with Reuters on May 20, President Volodymyr Zelensky said there is "nothing positive" in talks with Western partners about the usage of their weapons to strike Russian military facilities at the border and further inside Russian territory.

Washington has not changed its position on potential Ukrainian strikes with U.S.-supplied weapons on Russian territory, even after Russia had launched its offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said on May 16.

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