Ukraine has long been demanding that it be allowed to attack targets in Russia with Western weapons. Despite the sharpest warnings from Moscow, France now wants to allow this.

French President Emmanuel Macron wants to allow Ukraine to attack military positions on Russian territory with Western weapons. “We think that we should allow them to neutralise the military sites from which the missiles are fired and, in fact, the military sites from which Ukraine is being attacked,” Macron said on Tuesday after a meeting with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) at Meseberg Castle near Berlin. However, he made it clear: “We should not allow them to hit other targets in Russia, civilian capacities of course, or other military targets.”

This is the first time that the head of state of a leading NATO country has publicly supported the use of Western weapons against positions in Russia. Most recently, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had increased the pressure to lift existing restrictions.

Scholz was less clear on the issue than Macron, but hinted that he had no legal objections to such action. Under international law, Ukraine has every opportunity to do what it wants against the Russian attackers. “It has been attacked and is entitled to defend itself,” said the Chancellor. There are regulations for the use of weapons supplied by the USA, France or Germany “that state that this must always be within the framework of international law. That is what we have agreed, it has worked well in practice so far and will certainly continue to do so.”

According to experts, international law allows attacked states to attack aggressors on their own territory in order to defend themselves. Where the weapons come from is not legally relevant.

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened Europe with “serious consequences” if Ukraine were allowed to use the supplied Western long-range precision weapons against Russian territory in the future. “These NATO representatives, especially in Europe and especially in the small countries, should be aware of what they are playing with,” Putin said on Tuesday in the Uzbek capital Tashkent at the end of his state visit. He hinted at the possibility of military counterattacks.

Putin began the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine more than two years ago, but accuses the West of continuous escalation. Modern weapons systems such as the ATACMS missile complex are not controlled by Ukrainian soldiers, but by highly qualified NATO specialists based on data from satellite reconnaissance, the Kremlin chief claimed. The weapons have so far been aimed primarily at Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia.

Ukraine is demanding permission from the US and other Western states to use powerful, longer-range missiles and cruise missiles to attack Russia in order to combat the enemy more effectively. So far, Kiev has mainly used drones and missiles of its own production for these attacks. So far, the Russian military has been able to assemble units behind the border for new attacks on Ukrainian territory with virtually no interference, or to bomb border towns such as Kharkiv from a safe position using aircraft.

According to Putin, such permission from Western states would amount to a direct confrontation between Russia and the West. In this context, the 71-year-old once again referred to Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons. Since the beginning of the war, the Russian leadership has threatened to use nuclear weapons several times in order to prevent the West from providing greater support for Ukraine.

Macron was also quite clear on another issue regarding support for Ukraine. He said he would present a plan on the possible deployment of French military trainers to Ukraine next week – during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Normandy on June 6 to commemorate the Allied landings in World War II. At that time he would “speak out very precisely to announce what we are going to do”.

Macron had already suggested sending ground troops to Ukraine in February, later clarifying that this did not mean combat troops. Scholz had clearly rejected such a step.

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