Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner has criticized Western states for allowing Kiev to use their arms to strike Russia Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner talks to the press, Brussels, March 21, 2022 © AP / AP Photo/Olivier Matthys

Ukraine’s Western sponsors have crossed a boundary when they allowed Kiev to use their weapons to strike at targets in Russia, Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner said in an interview to Die Presse published on Saturday.

Several NATO members have openly supported the use of Western-produced armaments for cross-border strikes against Russia in recent weeks, ostensibly in a limited manner. The West insists that it is still not a party to the conflict, and only supports Kiev’s efforts to stall Russia’s push into the Kharkov Region, which Moscow launched to move the line of contact away from the border to prevent further Ukrainian attacks on Russian civilians.

“A red line has been crossed,” Tanner stated when asked about the US, France and Germany’s permission to use their weapons in cross-border strikes. When the interviewer asked how else Kiev could stall the Kharkov operation, the Austrian Defense Minister replied that “as a militarily neutral state, it is not our place to judge.”

The Austrian defense chief added that at least she was “very pleased that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has clarified that NATO will not be sending troops to Ukraine.”

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Stoltenberg claimed that the US-led military bloc has no plans to deploy ground forces to Ukraine in a press conference on Thursday. Despite this, French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Friday he was almost ready to finalize an international coalition to officially send Western military “instructors” to train Kiev’s forces in Ukraine.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has stressed that Moscow has long been aware that Western military personnel are already fighting in Ukraine, under the guise of “mercenaries” and “volunteers.” Western-produced long-ranged armaments used by Kiev in cross-border strikes are also controlled and serviced by these foreign troops, he stated. And even if Ukrainians are pulling the trigger, the US and its allies are the ones providing Kiev intelligence on Russian targets, the president said.

Moscow has warned that Western-backed long-range attacks on Russian territories will amount to direct Western participation in the conflict, and that Russia can respond in kind. “We can respond asymmetrically,” the Russian leader said on Wednesday, suggesting that Moscow could supply similar weapons around the world, where they could be used against Western targets. (RT)