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Kremlin hits out at escalatory remarks

By REN QI in Moscow | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-05-29 09:14
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The Kremlin slammed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday for suggesting alliance members should let Ukraine strike deep into Russia with Western weapons, saying it was clear that NATO was in a direct confrontation with Russia.

Stoltenberg told The Economist that NATO members supplying weapons to Ukraine should end their prohibition on using them to strike military targets in Russia.

"NATO is increasing the degree of escalation," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian daily Izvestia when asked about Stoltenberg's remarks.

"NATO is flirting with military rhetoric and falling into military ecstasy," Peskov said, adding that the Russian military knew what to do.

When asked if NATO was approaching a direct confrontation with Russia, Peskov said: "They are not getting close; they are in it."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the West that it is risking a global war over Ukraine and that a direct conflict between Russia and NATO would mean the planet was one step away from World War III.

Russian officials say any Ukrainian attacks deep inside Russia, including on civilian areas and even parts of Russia's nuclear defenses, are directly escalatory.

The United States has repeatedly said that it does not encourage Ukraine to strike inside Russia, though Ukraine has been lobbying hard to do so.

The Economist said that Stoltenberg's remarks were clearly aimed at US President Joe Biden, who has resisted allowing Ukraine to strike with US weapons inside Russia.

Stoltenberg's remarks came as French President Emmanuel Macron opened the door to sending troops to Ukraine, and at a conference in Paris on Feb 26, suggested that one area Western troops could help with would be to train Ukrainians in Ukraine.

Ukraine's top commander Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Monday he had signed paperwork allowing French military instructors to visit Ukrainian training centers soon.

Syrskyi gave no further details but said he believed that France's determination would encourage other partners to join this "ambitious project".

Meanwhile, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez signed a bilateral agreement on Monday in Madrid pledging that Spain will provide military equipment to Ukraine worth 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion).

"It is more important than ever to redouble our support," Sanchez told a news conference.

The pact calls for the supply of modern military equipment for ground, aerial, naval and other uses, "prioritizing Ukraine's key capacity needs".

El Pais also reported that Spain would commit to sending Ukraine a dozen US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missiles and 19 secondhand German-made Leopard 2A4 tanks, as well as other Spanish-made weapons.


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