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Ukraine may also use German weapons in Russia

There was a lot of discussion, and now the German government has decided: Ukraine can also use German weapons against targets on Russian territory. According to Defense Minister Pistorius, they have adapted to the situation.

Following the USA, Germany has also allowed Ukraine to use weapons supplied by the West against targets on Russian territory under certain circumstances. This is in accordance with international law, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

“In recent weeks, Russia has prepared, coordinated and carried out attacks, particularly in the Kharkiv area, from positions in the immediately adjacent Russian border area,” the statement said. They are jointly convinced that Ukraine has the right under international law to defend itself against these attacks. “To this end, it can also use the weapons supplied for this purpose in accordance with its international legal obligations; including those supplied by us,” said the Federal Government spokesman.

USA had also allowed deployment

The US had previously authorized the use of US weapons on targets in Russia to a limited extent. This only applies to counterattacks in defense of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, reported the news magazine Politico and the broadcaster CNN, among others.

The government spokesman explained that the German government is continuously adapting its support to the development of the war “together with our closest allies and in close dialogue with the Ukrainian government”.

Pistorius: “We have adapted our strategy to the situation”

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius described the decision as a “strategic adjustment to the changing situation.” “This decision is correct. It is what we have always done since the beginning of the war that Putin is waging against Ukraine. We have adapted to the situation, adapted our strategy in each case,” said the SPD politician at a meeting with his Moldovan colleague Anatolie Nosatii in the capital Chisinau.

The chairwoman of the Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, told the dpa news agency: “The federal government's decision is logical and an important signal in view of the current Russian targets.” Ukraine should “basically not only be allowed to fend off Russian missiles on its own territory, but should also be able to prevent them from being launched on Russian territory – even with weapons supplied by us,” said the FDP politician.

The opposition CDU also expressed its approval. Union parliamentary group vice-chairman Johann Wadephul told the dpa: “It is good and right that the federal government is now moving in the direction of supporting Ukraine, which many of our allies and partners are also pursuing. The decision took an agonizingly long time, but now the result counts, because the military situation in Ukraine is serious.”

Scholz: “Avoid escalation with Russia”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is attending the Catholic Congress in Erfurt today, did not directly respond to the government announcement. “We must avoid a major war – the war between Russia and NATO,” he said on the subject. “At the same time, we must ensure that Ukraine can defend its independence and sovereignty.” He also stressed that it was necessary to coordinate carefully with “those with whom one is allied.” The Chancellor stressed: “We do this again and again.”

On Tuesday, Scholz said at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron that Ukraine had “every opportunity under international law to do what it does.” He also rejected media reports that Germany was prohibiting this for supplied weapons systems. There had never been any such declarations “and there will never be.”

Deployment on Russian territory controversial in NATO

Whether Ukraine should be able to use all weapons supplied by the West to attack military targets in Russia is a controversial issue among NATO countries.

Ukraine has been demanding this for some time in order to be able to combat Russian positions more effectively in the war that has been going on for more than two years. So far, the country has mainly used its own missiles and drones for this purpose. Western weapons have so far been aimed primarily at Russian positions in the areas of Ukraine occupied by Moscow.

According to information from alliance circles, countries such as the USA and Germany, the two largest military supporters of Ukraine in the defensive war, had linked the handover of certain weapons systems to strict conditions for their use. The background to this is the fear that the conflict with Russia could escalate further and NATO could become a party to the war.

Government: Do not become a party to the war

A deputy spokesman for the German government has now rejected this: “It was always clear that by providing Ukraine with weapons, we would not become part of it or a party to the war,” stressed Wolfgang Büchner. It was also never disputed under international law that Ukraine was allowed to defend itself against Russia's war of aggression, which violated international law.

“Self-defense does not end spatially at the border”

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter states that a country may defend itself in the event of an armed attack. “The right to self-defense does not end at the border of the attacked state, but rather extends to the territory of the attacker,” explained Claus Kreß, an expert on international law at the University of Cologne, in an earlier interview with “There are two further, unwritten requirements: self-defense measures must be necessary and proportionate.”

It is important to note that only military attacks on military targets are permitted – not on civilian targets. “Whether a target is of a civilian or military nature must be examined and assessed on a case-by-case basis,” said Kreß. A target is military if, due to its nature, location, purpose or use, it effectively contributes to military actions – and if it represents a clear advantage for the attacker to destroy, neutralize or take possession of this target.

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