‘Risk averse’ West torn over Ukraine push to strike Russia: analysts

May 30, 2024
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference in Harbin, China, May 17, 2024. — Reuters

PARIS: As calls multiply to allow Ukraine to strike inside Russia using Western-supplied longer-range weapons, analysts said on Wednesday that Kyiv´s allies remained “risk-averse” and deterred by Moscow´s nuclear sabre rattling.


The issue is deeply divisive among Ukraine´s supporters, with the United States and Germany reluctant to permit Ukraine to strike over the border out of fear it could drag them closer to direct conflict with Moscow.

“We see that there is no consensus on this issue in the Western camp,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian daily Izvestia on Tuesday. He slammed the “hotheads who are making absolutely irresponsible and provocative statements.”

“But there are also those who ask themselves the question ´Is it necessary to escalate further?´”

On Monday, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Western powers to reconsider the restrictions as they were hampering Kyiv´s ability to defend itself. But Washington and other allies are reluctant, fearing a possible escalation could prompt Putin to use nuclear weapons. “I think this is unfair,” Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky said about western restrictions on use of their weapons.

French military historian Michel Goya said there is little past evidence suggesting that a country providing lethal aid would get dragged into a conflict. Moscow, Goya said, had claimed that Crimea annexed from Ukraine in 2014 was “untouchable.” “The Ukrainians hit it with American weapons and nothing happened”, the former French colonel told AFP.

The stakes are huge. Ukraine is struggling to hold back a Russian ground offensive in the Kharkiv region, where Moscow recently made its largest territorial gains in 18 months. With Russia´s war against Ukraine in its third year, Ukrainian soldiers are exhausted and outgunned.

“Ukraine complains that the limitations imposed by the allies make it easier for Russia to establish a strategic, operational and tactical advantage,” James Everard, former Nato Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said.