NATO Allies Disagree on Urging Biden to Lift Ukraine’s Strike Restrictions

World leaders are gathering in Washington, D.C., for the 75th anniversary of NATO’s founding, aiming to present a united front against Russia’s ongoing war. 

Despite the alliance’s commitment to bolstering collective defense and supporting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, some divisions are emerging.

NATO allies have expressed strong support for Ukraine, using phrases like “whatever it takes” and “for as long as it takes.” 

In a similar vein, U.K. Defense Secretary John Healey, new to his role, told reporters, “We will do whatever we can to support Ukraine.” 

However, Zelenskyy’s key requests, including the lifting of restrictions on striking Russian military targets within Russia, are unlikely to be granted as he seeks to counter Russia’s offensive.

Speaking Tuesday night, Zelenskyy once again highlighted the importance of being able to strike Russian military targets in Russia. 

The Biden administration, however, has maintained its strike ban unless the targets are near the border with the Kharkiv oblast in northern Ukraine, a region heavily targeted by Russian missiles in recent months. 

Several officials from the Baltic region, such as Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, have repeatedly urged the U.S. to abandon these strike restrictions to allow Ukraine to launch offensive strikes against Russian targets, rather than remaining solely on defense. 

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

When pressed on whether the new British government would push the Biden administration to lift the offensive strike ban, Healey remained non-committal. 

“These are really serious times for Ukraine, and these are serious decisions to take,” he said. “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 visited Ukraine on Saturday, has already pledged additional weapons support for Kyiv and promised a demonstration of “determination that Britain will step up support for Ukraine” during the NATO summit this week.