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Ukraine's use of German weapons to strike Russia will not 'contribute to escalation,' Scholz says

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 4, 2024 10:15 AM 2 min read
Olaf Scholz, Germany's chancellor, during a news conference following a Special European Council summit in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, April 18, 2024. (Simon Wohlfahrt/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's use of German and other Western-supplied weapons to strike targets in Russia will not "contribute to escalation," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Antenne Bayern radio station on June 3.

Berlin has long opposed lifting the ban on Ukraine's use of Western weapons to target Russia, but reversed course at the end of May amid growing calls from Western leaders to lift the restrictions.

A German government spokesperson told Deutsche Welle on May 31 that Ukraine can use German-supplied weapons to hit legitimate targets in Russia. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius later clarified that the decision applied to the area around Kharkiv, which has been the center of a renewed Russian offensive in recent weeks.

The statement from Scholz was the first time the chancellor publicly commented on the government's decision.

"We are certain that it will not contribute to an escalation because—as (U.S. President Joe Biden) has also described—it is only a matter of being able to defend a large city like Kharkiv," Scholz said.

In the past, Scholz has repeatedly cited a fear of escalation as among the principal reasons for limiting Germany's support for Ukraine.

"And I think it is clear to everyone that this must be possible. Under international law, this has always been possible anyway," Scholz said.

It is unclear what finally prompted the chancellor to change his mind, but Scholz said that he would not allow himself to be "pressured into making a decision that is not right and not timely."

After many months of hesitation, the White House partially lifted restrictions on Ukraine's ability to use U.S.-supplied weapons in Russia, but required that they only be used across the border from Kharkiv Oblast. Additional restrictions on the usage of U.S.-supplied long-range weapons remain in place.

Michael Carpenter, the senior director for Europe at the U.S. National Security Council, said later that the U.S. would allow Ukraine to strike targets in Russia across the border from both Kharkiv and Sumy oblasts with American-supplied weapons. He also said that the ban on ATACMS is still in effect.

Ukraine urges allies to lift Western arms ban on hitting targets inside Russia. Will they?
Following a new Russian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine is increasingly raising pressure on its allies, urging them to lift restrictions on the use of Western-provided weapons against military targets inside Russia. Months before the offensive, Kyiv had publicly pledged not to use Western-made…

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