NATO appears divided on pushing Biden to lift strike bans for Ukrainian offense

Jul 10, 2024 | Latest News | 0 comments

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World leaders continue to meet in Washington, D.C., for the 75th anniversary of NATO’s founding and to show a united front against Russia as its war in Ukraine rages on. 

But as the alliance comes together to bolster its collective defense and to champion Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his frontline fight, there are some divisions beginning to emerge.

Slogans like “whatever it takes” and “for as long as it takes” have been used to emphasize support for Ukraine against Russian President Vladimir Putin by NATO allies. 

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In a similar tone, U.K. Defense Secretary John Healey — new to the NATO game as of this week — told reporters from the British ambassador’s residence on Wednesday, “We will do whatever we can to support Ukraine.” 

But Zelenskyy’s top requests from NATO leaders — like lifting Washington’s ban on using U.S.-supplied weapons to strike Russian military targets in Russia — are unlikely to be granted as he desperately tries to stanch Russia’s deadly onslaught.

Speaking Tuesday night from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, just one block from the White House, Zelenskyy once again emphasized the importance of being able to strike Russian military targets in Russia. 

But the Biden administration has been unwavering in its strike ban unless the military targets are near the border with the Kharkiv oblast in northern Ukraine, a region that has been pummeled by Russian missile fire in recent months. 

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and several officials from the Baltic region, like Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, have repeatedly urged the U.S. to abandon its strike stipulations in order to allow Ukraine to offensively strike Russian targets, rather than constantly remaining on defense. 

Top allies of the U.S. like the U.K. and France have also said they will not implement similar strike bans and allow Ukraine to use the long-range missiles they provide as Kyiv sees fit. 

But when pressed on whether the new British government would push the Biden administration to remove the offensive strike ban, Healey remained tight-lipped. 

“These are really serious times for Ukraine, and these are serious decisions to take,” he told Fox News Digital. “That’s not something in my first week I’m going to rush at.” 

“Where Ukraine is asking for support, we and the other nations, we’ll do what we can to help them, and we’ll do what we can to advise them on how best they can use the capabilities and the experience that our nations can bring to their fight to defend their country,” he added. 

Healey, who on Saturday visited Ukraine just one day into the job, has already pledged additional weapons support for Kyiv and promised there would be a show of “determination that Britain will step up support for Ukraine” during the NATO summit this week.

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