NATO falling into ‘wartime ecstasy’ – Moscow reacts to NATO chief’s call for attacks deeper inside Russia

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The US-led bloc has been long-involved in hostilities with Russia despite claiming otherwise, Dmitry Peskov says

The US-led NATO bloc has not only been directly involved in a confrontation with Russia but is now falling into “wartime ecstasy,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. He was speaking in response to the military bloc’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg advocating the removal of restrictions on use of Western weaponry by Ukraine.

Stoltenberg’s remarks can be only considered as the official stance of the entire US-led military bloc and Russia will respond accordingly, Peskov told the Izvestia newspaper on Monday.

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“This cannot be his personal opinion. He is an official, he is the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and that is how we perceive it. NATO is increasing the degree of escalation, NATO is flirting with warlike rhetoric, falling into ‘wartime ecstasy.’ This is the reality we have to continue to deal with,” Peskov stated.

Subsequent remarks by Stoltenberg that NATO “will not become part of the conflict” were rather “contradictory,” the spokesman noted, given that the military bloc has de facto long been a party to the hostilities and had entered into a direct confrontation with Russia.

On Friday, Stoltenberg urged NATO allies to lift restrictions on Kiev’s use of Western-supplied weaponry against Russia. “To deny Ukraine the possibility of using these weapons against legitimate military targets on Russian territory makes it very hard for them to defend themselves,” he argued.

“The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions they have put on the use of weapons they have donated to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said, in an interview with The Economist.

However, on Sunday he insisted that “NATO will not become part of the conflict.” The bloc has no plans to send in troops or to protect Kiev through extending “NATO’s air-defense shield to Ukraine,” the NATO chief told Germany’s Welt am Sonntag.

Moscow has long rejected NATO’s rhetoric about its role in the conflict and the supposed restrictions on the use of Western-supplied munitions for striking deep into Russian territory. Such talk is merely designed to maintain the illusion that the West is not part of the conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“We proceed from the fact that American and other Western weaponry strikes targets on the territory of Russia, primarily civilian infrastructure and residential areas,” the top diplomat told reporters on Friday.

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Jens Stoltenberg does not have authority to lobby for strikes with Western arms, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has exceeded his mandate by calling for Ukraine to be allowed use Western-donated weapons for strikes deep inside Russia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

The NATO chief has been urging western donors of longer-range weapons to allow attacks against targets located inside Russia. The arms were reportedly provided on the condition that they would not be used outside Russian territory that is claimed by Kiev. The stipulation is intended to prevent further escalation of the conflict.

“The time has come for allies to consider whether they should lift some of the restrictions,” the secretary general told The Economist last week.

Some NATO member states have already “yanked Stoltenberg,” Lavrov told the media on Monday, referring to opposing remarks coming from the Italian government.

“I doubt that the secretary general can take it upon himself to speak on behalf of members of the bloc before this issue is discussed within NATO,” he added. “I believe he has stepped outside of his authority.”

Senior Italian officials, including Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, have rejected Stoltenberg’s public calls for a policy change.

“I don’t know why Stoltenberg said such a thing, I think we have to be very careful,” the Italian leader told local media on Sunday. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said during an election rally on the same day that the NATO chief “cannot speak on behalf of the Italian people,” and urged him to “either ask for forgiveness, rectify his remarks or resign.”

Lavrov previously described the Western ban on long-range strikes as largely irrelevant in the context of the armed conflict.

“American weapons are already being used against various targets outside the combat zone,” he said last week. “We proceed from the fact that American and other Western weaponry strikes targets on the territory of Russia, primarily civilian infrastructure and residential areas.”

READ MORE: Blinken lobbying for strikes on Russia – NYT

Ukrainian officials have claimed that the limitations imposed by the West are responsible for Russia’s recent advances in Kharkov Region. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is reportedly lobbying fellow members of the Biden administration with a view to lifting the prohibition applying to American weapons.

[Top image: FILE PHOTO: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. ©  Sputnik / Sergey Bobylev]

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