Latvian leader backs Ukraine striking Russia, defying NATO stance

Rinkevics directly linked Russia’s advances in Ukraine to “our inability to provide Ukraine with weapons and putting restrictions” on how they can be utilized.

Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics has stoked controversy by stating in a CNN interview that he sees “no reason” to prevent Ukraine from attacking Russian territory with Western-supplied weapons. His comments defy the stance of NATO’s leadership on the use of allied arms inside Russia itself.

Rinkevics directly linked Russian advances in Ukraine to “our inability to provide Ukraine with weapons and putting restrictions” on how they can be utilized. He portrayed striking the Russian military from Ukraine as a justified response enabled by increased Western military aid.

NATO’s contrasting position however, Rinkevics’ advocacy for allowing cross-border strikes into Russia contradicts recent statements from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The alliance chief proposed allies reconsider whether Ukraine should wage offensive operations on Russian soil using Western-provided arms.

Yet Stoltenberg also cautioned against direct NATO involvement, stating that they would be in a situation where it is very hard to keep NATO out of the conflict if allied forces attack Russian capabilities inside Ukraine.

The divergent views highlight a sensitive debate within the NATO alliance over how far to enable and support Ukrainian forces as the war grinds on with no resolution in sight.

By openly backing strikes into Russia from Ukraine, Rinkevics appeared to endorse crossing a red line that could risk further dangerous escalation with a nuclear-armed adversary. His comments drew criticism from some Western officials worried about the potential for spillover of the conflict.

The United States and other NATO allies have previously stated their arms transfers are aimed solely at allowing Ukraine to defend itself and regain territories seized by Russian forces since the invasion began in February 2022.

As the war’s costs mount, the Latvian president’s rhetoric underscores growing impatience among some NATO members to take a more aggressive posture enabling Ukraine to regain the military initiative – even if it means allowing attacks inside Russia’s borders using allied-donated weapons.