Ukraine: green light for attacks with Western weapons

A growing number of Nato states are granting Ukraine more freedom in how it deploys Western weapons. Deliveries from Poland, Canada and Finland are no longer subject to conditions, and last week the US lifted its ban on the use of US weapons to attack targets on Russian territory, albeit only for the region around Kharkiv. Germany then followed suit. How will this affect the course of the war?

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De Volkskrant (NL) /

Europe facing a bloody summer

De Volkskrant says allowing Kyiv to attack Russia is the right course of action:

“Ukraine must be given the opportunity to defend itself, not only to protect the people of Kharkiv, but also to stop Russia from advancing further. In the interests of European security, Russia must not be rewarded for its aggression. It is wise of the US to attach conditions to the deployment of its weapons. ... In this way the escalation will be limited to some degree, because the weapons will be used for self-defence. Despite all the uncertainty, however, one thing is unfortunately clear: Europe is in for a gruelling and bloody summer.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Moscow may see lifting of ban as entry into war

La Vanguardia comments:

“The Ukrainians are fighting for their country and their freedom and should continue to receive support from their Western allies. Under international law Ukraine has the right to defend itself against Russian attacks, and it will now be able to respond by striking Russian territory. Giving Ukraine permission to use weapons against targets on enemy territory is a decision made by each individual Nato state that has supplied those weapons, and 'does not make the allies part of the conflict', as Stoltenberg has said. ... The problem is that the other side may not see things the same way.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

Bad for Scholz's credibility

Handelsblatt sees the German chancellor in a tough position:

“Scholz has made the right decision - but is likely to pay a high price for it. Because at the very moment in which he is presenting himself as 'peace chancellor' in the European election campaign he has had to take a step which will give the Ukraine war a new quality. With this step he is providing the populists with an easy target and coming under pressure over the issue of arms deliveries again. Scholz has gambled away his credibility. Although he is sticking to his principles on the issue of the use of Western weapons on Russian soil he nonetheless comes across as unprincipled.”

Alexandr Kochetkov (UA) /

Mainly about diplomatic pressure

As long as Ukraine is dependent on Western arms it will not be able to act freely, blogger Alexandr Kochetkov writes on Facebook:

“Allowing the free use of Western weapons is a good thing. But this is still mainly about exerting diplomatic pressure on the aggressor. After all, permission to strike the territory of the wannabe empire means nothing if there is nothing with which to attack it. That is why our partners will remain in control of this sensitive process in any case. Until we start producing most of what we need for our security ourselves.”

RFI România (RO) /

Don't fall for the Kremlin's rhetoric

RFI România says Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons are not credible:

“Germany's Bild newspaper, which over the past few years has proven to be a good source for information about Russia's activities and among other things reported accurately on the preparations for the invasion in February 2022, now writes that the Ukrainian army has already used the Patriot system it received from Germany at least once to hit Russian targets attacking Ukraine. The reactions from Washington and Berlin have been furious. ... But if the reports are true, this also shows something else: namely that Russia, which has already been hit by Western weapons, has not reacted despite Vladimir Putin's rhetoric.”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

Decisive for victory

For Ukraine, three key strategic goals are at stake here, explains Latvijas Avīze:

“Firstly, the West's military industry needs to ramp up production and development. ... Secondly, it wants the auxiliary functions (supplies, hospitals, repairs) to be taken over by Western contingents. ... Thirdly, with the exception of nuclear weapons it wants all Western weapons to be allowed to be used on Russian territory. This also includes air-launched missiles capable of reaching targets up to 2,000 kilometres away. ... When the Russians see that their entire European territory is under attack and that they are losing military and economic assets worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars every day, the Russian elite will realise that something must be done to end this war.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

On a knife's edge

Naftemporiki is worried:

“If Western weapons are used for attacks outside Ukraine, the countries that send them acquire the status of belligerents. This means that the country against which the weapons are directed can legitimately take military action against them. So far Moscow has not has not taken such action, because there was a tacit agreement that the weapons would not be used on Russian territory. If something changes or if Putin sees the risk of defeat, he could retaliate and drag the Western states into a war. So we're on a knife's edge. And the worst thing is that nobody is talking publicly about peace - nor even of a painful compromise.”

Postimees (EE) /

Red lines are absurd

Postimees says there must be an end to the procrastinating:

“Russia would probably have lost the war in Ukraine long ago if the West had not drawn its 'red lines'. One by one, these restrictions have been lifted, but at the cost of lost time and the lives of Ukrainian soldiers. The situation can't escalate any further: Russia attacked Ukraine driven by imperialist ambitions, and it imposed no restrictions on itself - neither regarding the use of weapons which are prohibited by international conventions nor regarding attacks on civilian infrastructure.”

Új Szó (SK) /

Don't be intimidated

For Új Szó, it's clear that Russia can only be pushed back using military means:

“Moscow threatened from the outset that there would be 'historic consequences' if the West dared to help Ukraine. ... Partly for this reason and partly because of the different political culture, Western countries have been very reluctant to provide Ukraine with resources. ... Putin can only be deterred by the use of force. And the serious threat of costly military strikes. If the West listens to Putin, this will not lead to the end of the war, only to Kyiv's capitulation.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Moscow won't be targeted

The proposal should be viewed realistically, warns Corriere della Sera:

“It must be made clear that the aim is not to beat Russia 'into the ground'. Nobody would ever think of putting Moscow in the crosshairs and nobody would want to. It's about giving the Ukrainians the opportunity to attack the outposts - like the airbases along the border - that are giving Putin an increasing advantage. This is a green light that Zelensky has asked for on each of his trips and never received. Surely his forces won't be able to carry out the attacks by waving the sword of drones 'Made in Ukraine'.”

De Morgen (BE) /

We need nerves of steel

Belgium is now also supplying F-16 fighter jets as part of a security agreement with Ukraine. But this poses certain risks, De Morgen warns:

“In the long term, we promise in the security agreement to bring Ukraine into the EU and Nato and to stand by it militarily - even 'in the event of new aggression'. The greater the military cooperation, the greater the likelihood that we will no longer just be watching from afar but also become involved with Belgian soldiers. ... Our society must reckon with us having to be heavily involved for at least a decade, contributing manpower, resources and above all nerves of steel in order to prevent a major escalation.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Welcome help but no panacea

The use of Western weapons alone would not bring a significant change in the situation for Ukraine, Jutarnji list suspects:

“In the areas of Russia [that Western weapons could reach] there are hundreds of military objects, fuel depots, weapons depots, command posts, places for repair and logistical support, radar stations, barracks, at least 15 air bases and other key military infrastructure. ... Allowing Ukraine to use Western weapons in Russia would probably reduce the effectiveness of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, but it would not change the balance of power as long as Ukraine doesn't solve problems such as its shortage of ammunition and soldiers.”

Zeit Online (DE) /

Enough of the double standards!

Zeit Online criticises the West's unequal treatment of Ukraine and Israel:

“Ukraine must be allowed to attack Russian troops in those locations where they are preparing to advance. ... Ukraine has so far adhered to both the agreements with its Western supporters and to humanitarian international law. The same can no longer be said of Israel, however. For months the Netanyahu government has ignored the exhortations of its backers to do far more to improve the humanitarian situation. ... Israel's excessive warfare is also damaging to its Western supporters, who have stood by idly for too long. And the simultaneous fettering of the Ukrainians shows that the West is at risk of betraying its moral standards.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

The red line: Kharkiv

Kharkiv's key role has fuelled this debate, writes Corriere della Sera:

“At the beginning of the invasion, former Russian President Medvedev threatened that Kharkiv would be the fifth region to be annexed. But the attack was repelled. Today, Ukrainians fear that Putin wants revenge for this debacle. The economic consequences would be more serious than the fall of Donetsk or Mariupol. The Kharkiv region is the third largest source (6.3 percent) of Ukraine's GDP after Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk and has the country's largest natural gas reserves ... Moscow's aim seems to be to make the city uninhabitable and force its citizens to leave in preparation for a new summer offensive.” (UA) /

Biden holding back because of the election

If Washington is hesitant, it's not for fear of an expansion of the war, contends:

“The White House does not fear any large-scale action by the Kremlin in response to its allowing Ukraine to fire on Novorossiysk or Sochi with American weapons, for example. No, it suspects that Putin, in keeping with his KGB habits, will try to carry out some nasty act of revenge with the help of foreign hands. ... For example that he could give money to some Iranian proxies and they would attack an American embassy or military base, causing US casualties. ... And that that could affect the election.”

Adevărul (RO) /

A decisive hit

Adevărul sees a change in thinking:

“It is likely that the US will agree to the use of weapons to attack military targets in Russia in the near future, which the Ukrainians have been demanding for a long time. A situation in which the Russian army could be hit directly in its command centres, communications, ammunition and weapons depots. ... Russia has already lost half a million military personnel who have been killed or wounded, as well as a lot of money from its budget, a third of which is being used to support the war. ... And there are many indications that Putin wants to freeze the war on the current front because he no longer has the means to continue it.”

T24 (TR) /

Not carefully thought through

T24 sees Europe drifting towards increased involvement in the war:

“Everything points to Europe being dragged step by step into the war. However, this is not a particularly determined or well-considered course. In fact, this drift is taking place as Europe loses its autonomy, succumbing to the growing pressure from Washington, to which it surrendered its foreign policy after the Second World War. It's as if Europe had awoken from hibernation only to find itself being mustered under calls of 'Come on, soldier, up you get'. ... There are signs that Nato forces are preparing for a major conflict with military manoeuvres and exercises in Europe. The Baltic states are being militarised.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Victory on the battlefield unrealistic

Instead of giving the green light for attacks on Russian territory, the Tages-Anzeiger calls for a realistic proposal for negotiations:

“Can this madness be stopped? ... No. Russia could end the war immediately if it wanted to. But Vladimir Putin can't and won't admit defeat, so he has his soldiers fight on with the aim of making the already largest country in the world even bigger. ... But one thing is clear: if we want this 'Russian madness' to stop, we must take a step towards the enemy. Because victory on the battlefield is unrealistic.”