Top NATO diplomats meet as Ukraine seeks long-range weapons to attack Russia | Russia-Ukraine War News

Foreign ministers from the military alliance will meet in Prague to prepare an aid package for Ukraine ahead of the NATO summit in July.

NATO foreign ministers will meet in Prague amid growing calls for key allies to lift restrictions preventing kyiv from using Western weapons to attack inside Russia.

The two-day meeting starting Thursday in the Czech capital will focus on efforts to hammer out a support package for Ukraine at the NATO summit in Washington in July.

But the turbulent debate over whether kyiv should be allowed to use weapons sent by Western supporters to attack inside Russia risks overshadowing the meeting.

Ukraine has been pressuring its supporters – mainly the United States – to allow it to use the longer-range weaponry they supply to attack targets inside Russia.

Split views

The United States and Germany have so far refused to allow kyiv to attack across the border for fear that it could drag them closer to direct conflict with Moscow.

Ahead of the NATO meeting – which begins with a dinner on Thursday – alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg repeatedly said it was time for members to reconsider those limits as they hamper kyiv’s ability to defend itself.

French President Emmanuel Macron appeared to change course Tuesday when he said Ukraine should be allowed to “neutralize” bases in Russia used to launch attacks.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, however, remained less committed, saying Ukraine should act within the law and that Berlin had not supplied the weapons to attack Russia anyway.

Across the Atlantic, the White House said it still opposed Ukraine using American weapons to attack inside Russia, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken hinted that the strategy could change.

Meanwhile, Moscow has reacted strongly, with President Vladimir Putin warning that there would be “serious consequences” if Western countries gave their approval to Ukraine.

Those pushing for more freedom for Ukraine say they hope momentum is building for the United States and others to change course as kyiv struggles to stop the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region.

“Clearly, President Macron’s ideas help allies who believe this rule should change,” said a diplomat from a NATO country. “I hope that the debates in the United States will take Macron’s ideas into account.”

While NATO allies wrestle with that question, ministers in Prague are also trying to hammer out a support package that will keep Ukraine satisfied, as its hopes for eventual membership remain a distant prospect.

After pushing hard at a summit last year, NATO countries (led by the United States and Germany) firmly told Kiev that it should not expect any concrete progress in joining the alliance in Washington.

Instead, NATO chief Stoltenberg wants alliance members to make clear, multi-year commitments on how much aid they will give to Ukraine in the future.

Last month, he proposed an overall target figure of 100 billion euros ($108 billion) over five years, but that figure fell flat among allies confused about what it would entail.

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